By Sydney Levine | Sydneys Buzz September 30, 2010 at 6:30AM
FPI disrupts gay film festival from The Jakarta Post, Jakarta | Wed, 09/29/2010 10:04 AM
Members of the Islam Defenders Front (FPI) staged rallies at foreign cultural centers on Tuesday, demanding the termination of the 9th Q! Film Festival, which showcased LGBT artwork. The group demanded the cultural centers close down the festival within 24 hours.
Word here in Berlin is that the threatening of Goethe Institute, Erasmus Huis Dutch Cultural Center, Centre Culturel Francais Jakarta and the Japan Foundation for their support of this event highly politicizes this on an international scale.
The festival went ahead at several foreign cultural centers, including the CCF French cultural center, the Erasmus Huis Dutch cultural center and the Goethe Institute. In its official statement published on its website, the Q-Munity Foundation for Equality in Indonesia, which organizes the film festival along with various organizations and cultural centers, said it intended to continue with the event as scheduled. Read the latest article here about "students" continuing the protest from September 30 with a couple of immediate readers' comments which I love so much that I quote them here as well:
1) Didi, Bandung | Thu, 30/09/2010 - 13:09pm: Around one in twenty people is homosexual. Indonesian Muslims are not excluded by some divine intervention. What is the point of a University education if you are unable to accept the facts of life. Grow up children.
2) j, bandung | Thu, 30/09/2010 - 12:09pm: C'mon, RI needs more gay films. Just a little bit of gay movies here and there will noy 'gay-ify' the country. Stop being tightasses.
Thanks to the people of Indonesia for speaking up! It looks like Indonesia has maintained the right to freedom of speech!
Below is the original news article of September 29.
Members of the Islam Defenders Front (FPI) staged rallies at foreign cultural centers on Tuesday, demanding the termination of the 9th Q! Film Festival, which showcased LGBT artwork.
The group demanded the cultural centers close down the festival within 24 hours.
In a rally in front of the Goethe Institute German cultural center in Menteng, Central Jakarta, at around 11:45 a.m., a protestor from the FPI said the group would burn down the venue if it continued to showcase movies about gay and lesbians.
Dressed in traditional white Muslim attire and waving posters showing screenshots of the movies featured in the festival, the protesters verbally abused homosexuality.
FPI Jakarta deputy chairman Fachry Idrus Jamalullail said the group would reject any events related to lesbian or gay issues because “it is against the principles of Islam”, and claimed their actions represented all Muslims in the country.
Fachry would not be drawn into discussing what the group might do if the festival persisted, saying they would just wait and see.
The FPI also rallied in front of the Erasmus Huis Dutch cultural center, the Center Culturel Francais Jakarta and the Japan Foundation.
The rallies caused the festival’s organizer to cancel several movie screenings in the afternoon but several screenings were held in the evening.
The annual film festival that ends Thursday also features art from various countries focusing on human rights and HIV/ AIDS issues. The festival is also being held at several galleries and theaters.
Festival cofounder and director John Badalu said he and his team were committed to running the festival according to schedule. “We’re still going to go on,” he said.
He said there had been venue changes, adding that the Cemara 6 gallery in Central Jakarta and the Apollo bar in South Jakarta would not host any more events.
“The Japan foundation has not decided yet. They stopped today and won’t do it tomorrow. But we don’t know after that,” he said.
John said the FPI had protested the festival in its first years, but not in recent years.
John said intense media coverage of the event might have triggered this year’s protests.
“This year we decided to talk to AFP, which ran a story under the heading ‘Gay Film Festival Opens in Muslim Majority Indonesia’ and Republika [newspaper daily] picked that story up,” he said.
John said the festival aimed to celebrate diversity and was meant to allow people to learn to appreciate human beings for who they were.
Movie theater Kineforum program manager Lisabona Rahman said the film festival had continued at Kineforum despite FPI protests because the program was important from a human rights and human identity standpoint.
“We are proud to partner with the [festival] organizers.”
Commenting on the protests, the Jakarta administration said it was hard to stop the FPI’s violent protests and raids.
“We have often tried to communicate with them, but they still don’t change,” said Arfan Arkili, head of the administration’s National Unity Board, which oversees mass organizations in the city.
Governor Fauzi Bowo was not available for comment because he is in Rotterdam, and Deputy Governor Prijanto refused to comment about the protests.
Hesty Armywulan from the National Commission for Human Rights said as long as the FPI did not resort to violence their actions were acceptable, “but when they start to intimidate that can be considered a violation [of human rights]”.
Jakarta Police spokesman Sr. Comr. Boy Rafli Amar said the police would only take action if they received reports from residents. (ipa)
PER Sydney: A letter to the editor of Jakarta Post was quick in coming, read it here.