Dini ni mfumo wa maishani

Dini ni mfumo wa maishani

Monday, July 30, 2012

“White is right”

“White is right” is the idea that mainstream White American culture is always right. It determines what is “normal” and acceptable and what is not. It is that by which everything else is judged. It is a narrow, racialized, racist ethnocentrism. Note: In this post, as in most posts on this blog, “white” means White American. If you could hear the heart of American culture beating, you would hear this:
white is right white is right white is right white is right It courses through every vein of the culture. It is the message that every American gets hit with, day after day after day. At school, on television, from the news, from friends, from family. It is like it is in the air or in the water. It is inescapable. It brainwashes. No matter what your colour. People are taught to be ashamed of their true selves if it does not fall within narrow white norms. So: White English becomes the most right. White women become the most beautiful. American society becomes the most just, a model for the whole world. The white account of history becomes the most true. Each of these should be laughable, but they are not. Side effects: white as “default” and “universal” the melting pot conformity among the white middle-class internalized racism among people of colour the white lens imperialism weaves The white belief that they have no culture The white belief that they are Basically Good The white belief that they are the good guys of history Angelina Jolie’s lips
Black women have had full, beautiful lips since forever, but the mainstream American culture saw them as big and ugly. But on Angelina Jolie, a white Hollywood actress, they became beautiful. Suddenly. Likewise, tanned skin was considered ugly till the late 1900s when it became prized among the white upper middle-class. Or: jazz and hip hop were dismissed as ghetto music, even by the black middle-class, till white people started liking it. Tanned skin did not change. Jazz music did not change. Big lips did not change. Just the White Seal of Approval. An idea that comes out of a white man’s mouth is taken way more seriously than anything a woman or person of colour says – even when he is just repeating what they said. Most Americans regard the Bible as the Word of God. But even that is judged by White American culture, not the other way round. While many do determinedly stick to their understanding of the Bible, others simply set their idea of right and wrong according to “what everyone does”. “Everyone” meaning Most White People. Because white is right. Righter than God. Even clear evils like genocide and slavery, which no one in their right mind would waste any breath defending, are excused and downplayed! Because otherwise it would become apparent that white is not always right, that in fact it can be wrong in extremely terrible ways.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

What is Ramadan?

Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic lunar calendar. Every day during this month, Muslims around the world spend the daylight hours in a complete fast.
Answer: During the blessed month of Ramadan, Muslims all over the world abstain from food, drink, and other physical needs during the daylight hours. As a time to purify the soul, refocus attention on God,
and practice self-sacrifice, Ramadan is much more than just not eating and drinking. Muslims are called upon to use this month to re-evaluate their lives in light of Islamic guidance. We are to make peace with those who have wronged us, strengthen ties with family and friends, do away with bad habits -- essentially to clean up our lives, our thoughts, and our feelings. The Arabic word for "fasting" (sawm) literally means "to refrain" - and it means not only refraining from food and drink, but from evil actions, thoughts, and words. During Ramadan, every part of the body must be restrained. The tongue must be restrained from backbiting and gossip. The eyes must restrain themselves from looking at unlawful things. The hand must not touch or take anything that does not belong to it. The ears must refrain from listening to idle talk or obscene words. The feet must refrain from going to sinful places. In such a way, every part of the body observes the fast. Therefore, fasting is not merely physical, but is rather the total commitment of the person's body and soul to the spirit of the fast. Ramadan is a time to practice self-restraint; a time to cleanse the body and soul from impurities and re-focus one's self on the worship of God.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Muslim Olympians wrestle with Ramadan dilemma

London (CNN)– Olympic judo competitor Hemeed Al Drie plans to sin during the Games in London, he admits with a grin. "God is merciful and compassionate, even when our sins are many," said Al Drie, kneeling on a mat while martial artists hurled each other to the floor around him.
Al Drie's sin isn't what you might expect. It's that he is planning to eat and drink while the sun is up during the Olympics, even thought the Games fall smack in the middle of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. Observant Muslims are supposed to fast during Ramadan, abstaining from all food and drink, even water, during daylight hours, then eating and drinking after sundown. Fasting for the month is a major religious obligation, one of the Five Pillars of Islam.
But Al Drie, 19, knows that fasting on days when he has up to six judo matches against the world's best competitors would doom his chances of winning. "If you don't eat and you enter a competition, you might faint," he said. That would lead to instant elimination. So Al Drie is going to stick to his normal competition diet. CNN's Belief Blog: The faith angles behind the big stories "Maybe some people will fast, and that's good for them. But for me, I can't risk losing any of my matches," he said.
Al Drie, who is from the United Arab Emirates, isn't alone in facing the Ramadan dilemma. It's not clear exactly how many Muslim athletes are competing in the Olympics this year, but more than one in five people around the world - about 23% - is Muslim, according to estimates by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life. Religious experts in Saudi Arabia determine the starting date of Ramadan each year based on the phase of the moon. Muslim athletes face a particular challenge because there are so many hours of daylight in London during the Games, says sports nutritionist Hala Barghout. "It's a 17-hour fast in London. It's not like here in the Middle East," said Barghout, from the United Arab Emirates. It is "physically impossible" for a world-class athlete to stuff as much food as they need into their body during the seven hours of darkness that remain, she said. "How much can a person eat in one meal? You can't have, say, 3,000 or 4,000 calories in one meal. You need time to digest," she said. Three thousand calories is the amount that the U.S. government recommends that an active man in his 20s eat in an entire day. Explain it to me: Ramadan But one of the leading Islamic religious leaders in the Middle East says Muslims competing in the Olympics should observe the daytime fast, regardless of how it affects their performance. "Playing sports is not a requirement in Islam. Players become athletes by choice. This optional activity, therefore, does not allow athletes to break their fast," said Ahmed Abdul Aziz Al Haddad, the grand mufti of Dubai. Muslim athletes must also observe the fast because they are representing Islam at the Olympics, Al Haddad said. "They must be ambassadors of their faith," he said. "Meaning that Islam must be present in their actions, and they do not fall into anything that Islam forbids." How Olympic athletes rose from the Arab Spring Competitors may eat or drink if fasting is threatening their health, he said. "If a person feels extreme fatigue, sharia allows him to break his fast. Sharia is flexible," he said, using the Arabic word for Islamic law. "But to immediately break your fast without being hungry or thirsty is the same as submitting to your cravings and lusts, and not putting God's desire before your own," the religious scholar argued. Not all Muslim authorities agree with Al Haddad.
British Olympic rower Moe - for Mohamed - Sbihi has discussed the problem with his imam, and decided not to fast during the Games. He plans to feed 1,800 hungry people in Morocco after the Games as compensation for not fasting during the holy month, and will observe a fast later. "It was a hard decision for me to make," said Sbihi, who was born in Britain to an English mother and Moroccan father. "When I first started rowing as a youngster, I said that I'd be fasting regardless," he said. But over time he changed his mind. He did his university dissertation on fasting in sports, and consulted family, friends and coaches in Morocco and Britain before making his decision, he said.
British rower Mohamed 'Mo' Sbihi. "In the end it felt like I was making the right decision for me, and that's to postpone my fast, to make it up at a later date," he said. Sbihi has been considering the Ramadan dilemma for years, since it became clear that the 2012 Games would fall during the holy month. They usually don't. The Muslim calendar follows the moon, so Ramadan falls during different seasons in different years. Members of the London committee organizing the Games this year noted it was not their decision to hold them during Ramadan - the International Olympic Committee sets the date. The IOC pointed out that the Games "bring together virtually every religion and creed. ... How to deal with religious practices is up to each athlete and his/her personal beliefs." Sandrine Tonge, a spokeswoman for the IOC, said different countries and individuals deal with the question differently. "Some countries, like Egypt, for example, issue fatwas exempting athletes from the need to fast when competing," she said, using the Arabic word for a Muslim religious ruling. "At the end, religious practice is a matter for individual conscience." Interactive: The evolving Olympic athlete The London organizers pointed out that major international sports events have taken place during Ramadan before, including the Singapore Youth Olympic Games in 2010.
Dining facilities in the Olympic Village will be open 24 hours a day, and athletes observing Ramadan will be able to order "break-of-fast packs that will include water, nutritional bars and fruit," the organizing committee says. Even with those provisions in place, and with the Games beginning in just days, Khadijah Fahed Mohammed hasn't decided whether she will fast.
The 17-year-old weightlifter is the first woman from the United Arab Emirates ever to qualify for the Games. Her nutritionist has put together a plan for her to consume 5,000 calories a day - more than twice as much as an active woman her age should normally eat, according the U.S. guidelines. Follow the CNN Belief Blog on Twitter She's torn between her obligation to fast and her desire to win. "Both are important to me. Fasting is a must," she said, even as she recognizes the importance of her first time in the Olympics. "This is our chance. Ramadan just happened to be at the same time as the competition, so no one knows what to do. Should we fast or not?" she asked. Her coach says she should. "Many competitions have taken place during Ramadan," said Nagwan El-Zawawi. "I am not convinced you can break your fast. I mean, fasting is a must. There are no excuses." But judo competitor Al Drie doesn't believe that.
"God is with me wherever I go, whether I fast or not," he insisted. "The most important thing is to have faith in God and give it your best and thank God, whether you win or lose."

Obama's gay marriage support riles religious conservatives, but political effects not yet clear

U.S. President Barack Obama’s endorsement of gay marriage on Wednesday outraged conservative Christian leaders, who vowed to use it as an organizing tool in the 2012 elections, but the move is also activating the liberal base, raising big questions about who gains and loses politically. “It cuts both ways - it activates both Democratic and Republican base voters,” said John Green, an expert on religion and politics at the University of Akron. “The most likely effect is that it makes an already close election even closer.” In an interview with ABC News, Obama said, "At a certain point I've just concluded that for me personally it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same-sex couples should be able to get married." The announcement puts Obama at odds with presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, who opposes same-sex marriage and who voiced that opposition in an interview on Wednesday. CNN’s Belief Blog: The faith angles behind the biggest stories "Considering that 10 of the 16 battleground states have marriage amendments that could be overturned by the president's new policy position on marriage, today's announcement almost ensures that marriage will again be a major issue in the presidential election,” said Tony Perkins, president of the the conservative Family Research Council. “The president has provided a clear contrast between him and his challenger, Mitt Romney," Perkins continued. "Romney, who has signed a pledge to support a marriage protection amendment to the U.S. Constitution, may have been handed the key to social conservative support by President Obama." Obama stressed in the interview that his support was personal and that he would leave the issue of marriage to the states. But many conservatives chafed at the idea that the president's personal views would not affect public policy. Follow the CNN Belief Blog on Twitter Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, released a statement saying the president's comments were "deeply saddening." Dolan's statement continued, "I pray for the President every day, and will continue to pray that he and his Administration act justly to uphold and protect marriage as the union of one man and one woman." Bishop Harry Jackson, the senior pastor of Hope Christian Church outside of Washington, DC, said that "I think the president has been in this place for awhile and that he chose this time because he thought that it might shift the balance of power." Jackson has long campaigned against same-sex marriage. Ralph Reed, a top organizer among religious conservatives, said Obama’s announcement was a “gift to the Romney campaign.” Romney, a Mormon who has evolved to a more conservative position on hot button social issues, has struggled with his party's largely evangelical conservative base in the primaries. But Reed said Obama’s gay marriage support would help Romney in many battleground states. “The Obama campaign doesn’t have to worry about New York and California,” Reed said. “They have to worry about Ohio, Florida and Virginia and I don’t’ see evidence that it’s a winning issue in those states.” Green said that public opinion about gay marriage has been shifting dramatically in recent years, with some polls showing more support than opposition. Green said that in many battlegrounds, including Ohio, it's impossible to nail down current public opinion on same-sex marriage. A Gallup Poll conducted this month found that 50% of American adults support legal recognition of same-sex marriage, while 48% oppose it. Reed noted that same-sex marriage bans have passed in virtually every state they have appeared on the ballot, including in North Carolina on Tuesday. That’s a typically red state that Obama won in 2008 and that is the site of the Democrat's 2012 convention. Many liberal groups were ecstatic over Obama’s support for gay marriage. “Congratulations, Mr. President, for making history today by becoming the first sitting president to explicitly support marriage for same-sex couples,” said Rea Carey, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. In his interview with ABC, Obama talked about squaring his decision with his personal religious faith. “We are both practicing Christians and obviously this position may be considered to put us at odds with the views of others,” Obama said, referencing his wife, Michelle. “But, you know, when we think about our faith, the thing at root that we think about is, not only Christ sacrificing himself on our behalf, but it’s also the Golden Rule,” he said. “Treat others the way you would want to be treated.” One key Obama constituency that may be angered by his Wednesday announcement is African-Americans, who tend to be more religious than whites. Though they hew heavily Democratic, African-Americans are generally conservative on social issues like gay marriage.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Attack of the Drones!

As governments are increasingly relying on drones, what are the consequences for civil liberties and the future of war?
The US government’s growing reliance on aerial drones to pursue its war on al-Qaeda and the Taliban in Yemen, Afghanistan and elsewhere is proving controversial – as evidenced by the international reaction to recent drone missile attacks along the border with Pakistan. But Barack Obama’s administration is undeterred, favouring the technology more and more because it reduces the need for American troops in those countries and the risk of politically unpalatable casualties. “He probably thinks this is already a controversial war,” says Christ Klep, an international relations analysts at the University of Utrecht. “I’d better not endanger my pilots and my special forces, so what else do I have? Unmanned aerial vehicles? Deploy them.” But the strategy is giving rise to anxieties that conflict is becoming just a big computer game, in which ‘desk pilots’ in air conditioned bunkers far from the battlefield can kill a few enemy fighters and then go home to their families, remote from the human consequences of their actions or the anguish of associated civilian casualties. Nevertheless, Ko Colijn, a security expert at the prestigious Clingendael Institute, says that the technology is here to stay. “In a way the Americans reached a turning point in 2009, 2010. They trained more screen pilots than pilots physically inside an aircraft. And they purchased more unmanned planes than manned ones, which is not surprising since they’re much cheaper,” he says. However the Americans are not the only ones using drones. More than 40 countries are believed to be working with unmanned aircraft and even Iran claims to be developing its own version – perhaps based on a captured US spy drone it downed last year and then proudly displayed to the media. Nor are the current crop of unmanned military aircraft the only manifestation of this disturbing new trend. Already in production are aerial drones that can independently acquire and attack targets or work together in swarms over hostile territory and earthbound battlefield drones that can either accompany ground troops or be sent alone into especially dangerous areas. Some commentators fear it all adds up to a new tech-driven arms race. The use of drones is becoming more widespread in civilian circles too – not least as a key law and order tool in the fight against crime. In June this year, for example, police in the British city of Manchester used one to track down a suspected car thief; in the Netherlands an arsonist was caught after being identified on a drone camera. And in Zurich, Switzerland, scientists have been developing flying robots for use in the construction industry. In demonstrations they will happily show how a few small drones, working at impressive speed, can lift heavy concrete blocks into place on a complex tower structure – a process that would otherwise necessitate scaffolding and dozens of human workers. But the technology also gives rise to worrying questions about snooping and invasion of privacy – and not merely because of the actions of government. With private companies in the US and Europe now developing cheap aerial drones that can be controlled with the kind of software used in smart phones, pilotless aircraft just a couple of feet across may soon be commercially available for a few hundred dollars. Imagine then, the images that a paparazzi photographer could obtain with a camera drone able to fly over high walls or hover outside windows set atop a multi-storey building. This film, from Dutch filmmakers Vincent Verweij, Fred Sengers and KRO, looks at the development and use of these extraordinary machines and ask where their use might lead

Islamophobia and the Republican Party

Republican politicians' attack on a Muslim State Department official echoes the Communist witch-hunts of an earlier era.
Michele Bachmann has accused Hillary Clinton's deputy chief of staff of ties to the Muslim Brotherhood [Reuters] "Until this moment, Senator, I think I never really gauged your cruelty or your recklessness… Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last?" With those famous words, spoken on June 9, 1954, during a nationally televised hearing of the US Senate, an Army lawyer named Joseph Welch produced perhaps the first nationally galvanising moment ever achieved in the US through a medium seemingly created for such moments, and which has generated many dozens of them around the globe since. In an instant, the powerful Senator Joseph McCarthy, anti-Communist demagogue, was revealed in three dimensions before the world for what he was: A small, petty, conniving man, willing to casually destroy the reputation of an innocent person - in this case, a junior lawyer on Welch's staff - in order to score a minor debating point. It was the beginning of a rapid descent, political and personal, for the once-feared Republican senator from Wisconsin. This scene from an unedifying chapter in US history has been on the minds of many in the past week. On Wednesday, Senator John McCain, the Republican presidential candidate in the 2008 election, rose on the floor of the Senate to defend Huma Abedin, a Muslim-American woman and deputy chief of staff to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, from attack by members of his own party. Abedin had been cited in a letter to the Deputy Inspector General of the State Department signed by five Republican congressmen, including Michele Bachmann, a former candidate for this year's Republican presidential nomination with a large following in the party. That letter darkly cited "…information [which] has recently come to light that raises serious questions about Department of State policies and actions that appear to be a result of influence operations conducted by ... the Muslim Brotherhood". Exhibit A in this apparent conspiracy to subvert US policy? Why, Abedin, whose late father, mother and brother, it is alleged, all have been "connected to Muslim Brotherhood operatives and/or organisations". FBI halts anti-Muslim training Character assassination The letter-writers fear the conspiracy is enjoying considerable success. According to Bachmann et alia, "The State Department and, in several cases the specific direction of the Secretary of State have taken actions recently that have been enormously favourable to the Muslim Brotherhood and its interests." Among these, it cites "… assorted efforts undertaken in the name of 'engaging' the Muslim Brotherhood both in Egypt and the United States. Lately, these have amounted to… assisting the realisation of the Brotherhood's goals". And just in case there were any ambiguities on that count, the letter helpfully spells out the mission of the MB in the United States, which is nothing less than "destroying the Western civilisation from within" through "civilisation jihad". Mercy: No wonder the preternaturally earnest Bachmann is upset. The Department of State is in the hands of persons so naïve, or so bamboozled by Muslim conspirators and sympathisers, that it is willing actually to talk to persons, presumably including the recently elected Egyptian president, allegedly bent on the sinister destruction of the American way of life. Senator McCain was unstinting in his rebuke of this sort of character assassination through innuendo. It is well that he and many others, both inside and outside the Republican Party, have risen to Huma Abedin's personal defence. But it should be noted that merely rising to Abedin's defence actually misses the central point. This imbroglio, in fact, has little to do with Abedin, who happened to be the only individual directly cited in one letter; other letters, apparently not mentioning Abedin, were sent to the inspectors general of the Departments of Justice, Defence and Homeland Security, as well as to the Director of National Intelligence. Representative Thomas J Rooney, one of Bachmann's co-signatories, said as much in response to the firestorm generated by Senator McCain: "I regret that Ms Abedin has become the media focus of this story," he said in a statement, "because the intention of the letters was to bring greater attention to a legitimate national security risk." Bachmann herself was similarly unrepentant: "I will not be silent as this administration appeases our enemies instead of telling the truth about the threats our country faces." "The Republican proponents of these Islamophobic views appear to be quite serious, and should be taken at their word." The sly innuendo employed against Huma Abedin may have been particularly outrageous. But Huma Abedin is not the main preoccupation of Bachmann's congressional clique, or of the many others who share their views - any more than Joseph Welch's young protégé was a particular concern of Joe McCarthy's. Moral obtuseness about the human effect of blind prejudice and political opportunism may be one of the uglier aspects of what Bachmann and company are up to. But it is incidental to their aims, and arguably not the most harmful result of their bigoted and paranoid views. The central enemy in the mind of those who inspire, inform, and/or share the views espoused in the Bachmann letters is not any particular person or group, but Islam itself. Not on the fringe It is tempting to some to dismiss as some sort of lunatic fringe those who believe, as Bachmann and company apparently do, that "civilisation jihad" poses a clear, present and insidiously critical danger to American values and the American way of life itself. Their ideas may well seem ludicrous to some, but they are decidedly not on the fringe. As someone who speaks frequently on counter-terrorism and national security issues, this writer frequently encounters the champions of these views. They style themselves as counter-terrorism or national security experts, or as academic scholars. They are given a prominent platform at national conferences, where they brand people like this writer and groups devoted to the defence of Muslims in America - organisations such as the Council on American Islamic Relations, and the American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee - as dupes or apologists for radical Islamists bent on the destruction of the United States, the West and Israel. They get a strong echo for their views. And they command particularly serious attention within the Republican Party. It may well be difficult in any given instance to judge precisely where ignorance and paranoia leave off and simple partisan political opportunism begins, but the Republican proponents of these Islamophobic views appear to be quite serious, and should be taken at their word. Some years ago, this writer was invited, along with the founder of the Investigative Project on Terrorism (IPT), to testify in open session before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence concerning the threat posed by al-Qaeda. Tellingly, I was invited by the Democrats on the Committee (though a Republican myself); the IPT representative was invited by the Republicans. My take on the views espoused that day, and consistently espoused by IPT and other organisations of its ilk, such as the Centre for Security Policy, which was prominently cited in the Bachmann letter, is that it is useless to make fine distinctions among Islamists, whether one is speaking of the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas, or al-Qaeda itself. All share the same aggressive world-view and the same aims; the only distinction among them is the relative degree to which they are willing to employ violence to achieve their ends. Hearing into 'radicalisation' of US Muslims raises questions As a Republican, I am all the more inclined to deplore the Know-Nothings who seem to have traditionally and consistently found a welcome home in the right-wing of my party, whether they be the old anti-Communist extremists of the John Birch Society, former opponents of civil rights for blacks, those who demagogue popular prejudices against gay people and undocumented immigrants today, or those who exploit fear of terrorism and popular ignorance of Islam to tar those, such as some in the Obama administration, who are willing to take a thoughtful and nuanced approach to the national security challenges posed by Islamic extremism. Propagation of ignorant fears No less a conservative Republican stalwart than the late William F Buckley, Jr was known to excoriate the excesses of what he referred to as "the fever-swamps of the American Right". What is most troubling about the Islamophobia that has gained such traction in the Republican Party, however, is precisely that it is not confined to the fever-swamps - or, perhaps, the swamps are simply spreading. Whether you love him or hate him, it would be hard to characterise Newt Gingrich as a fringe element in the Republican Party. A former Speaker of the House of Representatives, he mounted a credible campaign this year for the Republican presidential nomination, running for a time as a strong second to Mitt Romney. He is a very talented generator of ideas, whose greatest weakness is a bewildering inability to distinguish the good ones from the daft ones. But he is highly influential. Here is what he has to say about Islam: "I believe Sharia is a mortal threat to the survival of freedom in the United States and in the world as we know it. I think it is that straightforward and that real." The former Speaker takes little comfort in the fact that violent extremists have not been able to successfully target the US since 9/11, for he is alive to the threat from "stealth jihad". "Stealth jihadis use political, cultural, societal, religious, intellectual tools; violent jihadis use violence," he has said. "But in fact they're both engaged in jihad, and they're both seeking to impose the same end state, which is to replace Western civilisation with a radical imposition of Sharia." Fortunately, most in the US, and indeed the vast majority of Republicans, are far more concerned with the state of the US economy than they are with fear of the Talibanisation of the United States. But there is no end of harm that can come to the United States' reputation and to US interests in the Islamic world, to say nothing of the personal and social harm being done to loyal Muslim Americans, when propagation of such ignorant fears is not contested. It is good that Senator McCain has risen to the defence of a Muslim-American public servant. But his work, and that of other right-thinking Republicans, is hardly done. Former CIA station chief Robert Grenier heads ERG partners, a financial consultancy firm.

What makes Indonesia unique?

Consisting of more than 17,000 islands, the vast Indonesian archipelago spans 5,120 km across the equator, positioned between the Asian and Australian continents. Four-fifths of the area is sea with the major islands of Sumatera, Java, Kalimantan, Sulawesi and Papua. The 300 ethnic groups that exist harmoniously give birth to a potpourri of cultures and fascinating people. The major ethnic groups are: Minangkabaunese, Malay, Javanese, Sundanese, Maduranese and Ambonnese. Arab, Chinese and Indian immigrants have also settled in regions throughout the country, particularly in the coastal cities.
Geographically, Indonesia's landscape is greatly varied. Java and Bali have the most fertile islands and rice fields are concentrated in these two regions, whereas Sumatra, Kalimantan, Sulawesi, Maluku and Papua are still largely covered with tropical rainforest. Open savannah and grassland characterize Nusa Tenggara. The lowland that comprise most of Indonesia has a characteristically tropical climate with abundant rainfall, high-temperatures and humidity. Rainy Indonesia's tropical climate and unique geographical character provide shelter for flora and fauna that are as diversely rich as its land and people. The plant and animals in Indonesia's western region represent that of mainland Asia while those in the eastern region are typical of Australia. Endemic species, which are the pride of Indonesia exist in the central region, such as orangutans, tigers, one-horned rhinos, elephants, dugongs, anoas and komodo dragons.
one-horned rhinos
anoas The warm tropical waters of the archipelago nurture a rich marine environment that holds a myriad of fish, coral species and marine mammals.
archipelago nurture a rich marine environment
marine mammals
arts and crafts
wooden carvings
silverworks A cultural heritage passed on through generations offers a wealth of traditional arts and crafts. Batik, wooden carvings, weavings, silverworks and many other traditional skills produce exquisitely beautiful items. Indonesia's multi-racial and multi-religious culture mean festivals steeped in traditions are celebrated throughout the year.
Frequently featured in these events are dances, wayang theaters and other performing arts