Islamism is rising across Indonesia, where a toxic mix of religion and political opportunism has been percolating for some time

It was the young who came first to Indonesia’s public caning of gay men. They arrived on motorbikes and on foot, from nearby boarding houses and two universities, some skipping class and the others using up their holidays. An announcement was made barring children under 18, but some stayed anyway, reluctant to break up a family outing.

By 10am on Tuesday, a 1,000-strong crowd had congealed at the Syuhada mosque plaza in Banda Aceh. As someone sang a stirring Qur’anic hymn to inaugurate the ceremony, a verse about how God created man and woman in couples, young men were perched in the trees, on trucks, and all the balconies across the street. Girls huddled between jasmine bushes.

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