Islamist stop Lady Gaga concert. She says: “nothing holy about hatred“. Sadly, she’s wrong
After threats of violence from Islamists, 50,000 Indonesians have been prevented from seeing Lady Gaga. It's an important reminder about what Islamism means
Samuel P. Huntington’s notion of a clash of civilisations was always an imperfect formulation to describe the zero sum game between Islamism and Western liberal-democracy. For one thing, there is sometimes as much a clash within civilisations as there is between them.
The latest outrage perpetrated by Islamists in Indonesia provides a perfect illustration of the point. Following threats of violence from the country’s Islamic Defenders Front (FPI), Lady Gaga was forced to cancel a concert in Jakarta.
An FPI spokesman was quoted by AFP and the BBC as saying the following:
“FPI is grateful that she has decided not to come. Indonesians will be protected from sin brought about by this Mother Monster, the destroyer of morals.
“Lady Gaga fans, stop complaining. Repent and stop worshipping the devil. Do you want your lives taken away by God as infidels?"
The decision was also backed by the country’s religious affairs minister.
But here’s the point at issue,or at least one of them: 50,000 tickets had already been sold meaning that very large numbers of Indonesians felt they were quite capable of making up their own minds about Lady Gaga only to be beaten into retreat by death threats.
Now, there is no question that Lady Gaga is perfectly capable of offending traditional values, and that goes for those values emanating from faiths other than Islam. But even in supposedly secular Indonesia, the violent intolerance inherent in Islamism has once again resulted in a resounding defeat for liberal principles.
This makes a nonsense of Lady Gaga’s brave, well-meaning yet forlorn tweet against the Islamists in which she said: “There is nothing holy about hatred.“ On the contrary, for Islamists in Indonesia and around the world the injunction to enforce hateful political and social doctrine derives precisely from a belief in the holiness of their cause.
If you want to argue that the Islamists have got their religion wrong, good luck to you. The “Islam is a religion of peace“ mantra may well even be true for many ordinary Muslims. The problem is that that doesn’t make a blind bit of difference when the people who actually wield the power and call the shots think and act differently.
At a time when Islamists are effectively mounting a takeover in significant parts of the Arab world, we would do well to bear this in mind.
Burying our heads in the sand about what Islamism entails is surely not a sensible course of action.
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