My name is Fred and I am a gay conservative living in Ottawa. This blog supports limited government, the right of the State of Israel to live in peace and security, and tries to expose the threat to us all from cultural relativism, post-modernism, and radical Islam. I am also the founder of the Free Thinking Film Society in Ottawa (

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Indonesia bans yoga...

Hey, I missed this in the news...
Four days after the fatwa went out, students continued to fill the yoga mats in the classrooms of Jakarta's Jakartadogyoga Studio. On Jan. 28, the influential Indonesian Ulemas Council issued a religious edict forbidding all Indonesian Muslims from practicing yoga that incorporates pre-Hindu religious rituals such meditation and chanting. And while students at the yoga studio admitted they had heard about the proclamation, which only allows yoga for the purpose of exercise or sport, they say it won't deter them from attending classes in the popular Indian practice. "Issuing a fatwa is not the way to settle a controversy — if there really is one," says Sita Resmi, a yoga student and practicing Muslim. "If something endangers the public then I understand, but this doesn't so it doesn't make much sense to me."

The esoteric edict is one in a string of attempts by some religious groups and parties in Indonesia to influence morality in the country — efforts that not everyone in the Muslim-majority nation appreciates. The Council, which is not an official government body despite receiving funding from the Ministry of Religion, has come under attack lately by moderate religious groups for its series of controversial edicts that critics say embolden radical elements in the nation. Though some of the group's religious calls have been praised — it recently issued a fatwa against smoking for minors and pregnant women — others have been more divisive, such as decreeing that Muslims should avoid conventional banks in favor of syariah-based banking. Because the Council's rulings are non-binding, they are generally only observed by the nation's more conservative Muslims, but its advice is nonetheless often sought after by government officials. Last year, for instance, the Council played a key part in the controversial ban of the Ahmadiyah religious sect by the governor of South Sumatra.


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