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Government Religion Human Rights

You Can Run – Or You Can Hide

Fighting a losing battle? photo: Peter Vlam/flickr

On 26 January of this year, David Kato Kisule, a prominent gay rights campaigner from the east African nation of Uganda, was beaten to death with a hammer in his house near the country’s capital of Kampala, shortly after winning a lawsuit against a magazine which had published his name and photograph identifying him as gay and calling for him to be executed.

The story goes back to October of last year, when a weekly Ugandan tabloid newspaper, the Rolling Stone (with no affiliation to the iconic American music magazine), published the names and photos of 100 suspected homosexuals next to a banner that read “hang them”, which led to those listed being singled out, threatened, attacked, and – as in the case of Kato – killed.

Kato’s funeral was held on 28 January in Nakawala. Tears flowed as family members and human rights activists wailed. A statement from President Barack Obama was read, condemning the killing and urging authorities to bring swift justice. However, the presiding Anglican pastor shocked the mourners when he called on gays to repent or else be “punished by God” and made comparisons to Sodom and Gomorrah, before the bereaved managed to grab the microphone from him. During the resulting scuffle, the onlooking villagers, refusing to bury Kato within their parish, sided with the preacher.

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ISN Quiz: Inside Israel

In our latest Special Report we explored the heterogeneity and complexity of Israeli society- now you can put your knowledge to the test!

[QUIZZIN 29]

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Religion

ISN Weekly Theme: A Look Inside Israel

Menorah, Knesset in Jerusalem. Photo: Jerzy Strzelecki/wikicommons

The heterogeneity and complexity of Israeli society is often ignored in the mainstream media, which focuses almost exclusively on Israeli foreign policy and the Arab-Israeli conflict. This week the ISN takes a closer look at the dynamics of Israeli society today, revealing a broad range of political viewpoints and visions of what the state of Israel is all about.

This week’s Special Report contains the following content, easily navigated along the tab structure above:

  • An Analysis by Dominic Moran on the divides between secular and religious Jews and within Jewish religious communities.
  • Publications housed in our Digital Library, including reports on Israel’s Gaza blockade.
  • Primary Resources, including historical documents on the founding of the state of Israel.
  • Links to relevant websites and articles on Israel.
  • Our IR Directory, featuring a broad range of Jewish NGOs, such as the Yitzhak Rabin Center.
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Religion

Taunting Tolerance in Indonesia

Girls listening to religious teaching, photo: Paul Arps/flickr

Indonesia has long been known as a vibrant, tolerant and resilient country. With the world’s largest Muslim population, a fledgling democracy and a surprisingly vibrant economy (with corruption and poor infrastructure still hampering growth), Indonesia has, quite spectacularly, turned doomsday scenarios in the turbulent aftermath of the Suharto era to a laudable success story of post-colonial and post-authoritarian reconstruction.

While the economy bubbles along (surprisingly well given the global circumstances, as an Economist Special Report noted last year), Indonesian society is going through a process of self-discovery. With roots in arguably the most historically pluralistic form of Islam practiced in the Muslim world, Indonesians are looking to find their footing somewhere in between these roots and the shoots of a modern society that pushes for women’s rights, freedom of expression and further tolerance.

Even though Islamic political parties have never dominated the public realm in Indonesia (à la Malaysia, for example) with their support dropping by more than 10 percent to 26 percent in the 2009 legislative elections, a degree of accommodation has characterized the political process in the past. Although the government has been resolute in its pursuit of radical extremists, among them the infamous Jemaah Islamiyah group, it has also tolerated groups, preachers and religious schools that promote a more orthodox and intolerant (and arguably un-Indonesian) form of Islam.