Canadian Muslim liberal activist Irshad Manji was finally ushered out Friday evening with escorts out of the Salihara venue in South Jakarta. ” Manji was promoting her recent book, Allah, Liberty & Love: The Courage to Reconcile Faith and Freedom, and doing what she does best – upset expectations and provoke critical awareness around issues of moral courage and changing the world. At the heart of her endeavour is the concept of Ijtihad (pronounced “ij-tee-had”), which she defines as “Islam’s own tradition of independent thinking” that gave the world “inventions from the astrolabe to the university.”
“I love you all and I am proud of you all,” she said to the people who attended the event, which was stopped abruptly.
She added that she would not be deterred by such intimidation.
Dozens of people, claiming themselves residents and members of mass groups, were still shouting derogatory words at her as she entered the vehicle with her assistants. A police car followed behind.
“I really hope the police will protect her because she is a Canadian national. If the police do something wrong which can trigger protest from Canada, then shame on us,” Salihara co-founder Goenawan Mohamad said.
The event began at around 7 p.m. A police officer stepped forward around 15 minutes after Manji began to speak, to announce that the event should be called off for that night. Moments later, a number of people were heard shouting their disapproval towards the event.
“The local residents disapproved this activity, and this activity involves a foreigner, therefore it requires a special permit from the Jakarta Police,” Pasar Minggu Police Chief. Comr. Adri Desas Furyanto, said.
He added that members of the hard-line Betawi Brotherhood Forum (FBR), the Islam Defender Front (FPI) and the Betawi People’s Forum (Forkabi) were among the residents.
Akse, one of the people who protested the event, complained over Manji’s sexual preference, which the latter has confessed that she was a lesbian.
“This Irshad is a lesbian, do you want this country to be a lesbian?” he said.
Ulil Abshar Abdhalla, an activist known for his liberal stance towards Islam, who was attending the event, said that the disbanding of the event was unfair.
“The freedom of speech not only belongs to the conservative groups,” he said. (asa/ued)
About Irshad Manji
Irshad is founder and director of the Moral Courage Project at New York University’s school of public service. This leadership program equips students to challenge political correctness, intellectual conformity and self-censorship — within their families, communities and organizations.
As a reformist Muslim, Irshad strives to put moral courage into practice. Her latest book, Allah, Liberty and Love, is a guide to reconciling faith and freedom in a world raging with repressive dogmas. Irshad’s previous book is the international bestseller, The Trouble with Islam Today: A Muslim’s Call for Reform in Her Faith.
In-between her books, Irshad created an Emmy-nominated PBS film,Faith Without Fear. Through digital technologies, Faith Without Fear is being shown in underground circles throughout the Middle East and North Africa.
In countries that have censored Irshad’s works, she is reaching readers and viewers by posting free translations on this website. Irshad and her team have also produced an online study guide about how each of us, Muslim and non-Muslim, can learn to practice moral courage. Check out the English and Arabic translations of this guide.