Catch-22 for the Indonesian government


On Sept. 24, 2015, during the annual Hajj pilgrimage, hundreds of Muslim pilgrims, including 139 Indonesians, died in a stampede and other Hajj-related incidents, in Mina, Saudi Arabia. The picture shows victims surrounded by other pilgrims.

during the Hajj of 2015 in Mecca
127+12 Indonesians died in accidents linked to it
(hundreds of others died too)

Indonesian government didn’t recompense the near ones of the dead

the Saudi government did offer
one million riyals, or about $267,000 compensation
to the crane accident victims and their families
during that Hajj (12 killed and 49 injured)
alas, the offer remained unrealized,
as the money never came

to the grievances of aggrieved Indonesian workers in Saudi Arabia
the Saudi authorities have never paid much heed
it didn’t even inform the Indonesian regime when it beheaded 2 maids
who were accused of killing their cruel bosses
(hundreds of Indonesians are on death row in Saudi Arabia)

on the other hand,
the hard core Saudi version of Islam – Wahhabism/Salafism
is making inroads at breakneck speed
the Institute for the Study of Islam and Arabic (LIPIA) in Jakarta
is a Saudi evilchild that teaches Wahhabi Madhab
where tuition is free
but no national language of Indonesia can be seen here
even the bathroom signs are in Arabic
the “Saudi alumni” occupy high public positions

the Indonesian government can’t ask Saudis to fulfill obligations
and pay up compensation promised victims and families
nor can it stop the Saudi cultural/religious onslaught

how come?

for the Indonesian government it’s a Catch-22 dilemma

the Saudi King and his family control Mecca and Medina
world’s two holiest cities for Muslims
the Kaaba in Mecca is where Hajj is performed

(one of the five pillars of Islam is Hajj
Muslims are required to perform Hajj, at least, once in their lifetime
if physical/financial health permits them to do so)

Indonesia has the most Sunni Muslims in the world
over 200 million (Indonesia’s population is 263 million)
many of them would like to go on the pilgrimage
but cannot go because
the Saudis allow only a limited number of people
(this year the quota was increased by 10,000)

if Indonesian government confronts Saudis on issues it has with it
the Saudis will cut the Hajj quota further limiting its numbers
then the Indonesians people will get mad at its government
for annoying the Saudis and getting country’s quota reduced …

B. R. Gowani can be reached at

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