24 November 2017

The Moslem Caliphate in the Dutch media: The resistance against Dutch colonialism in Indonesia

 -  The Dutch plans against resistance: “Stop the Caliphate”

The Dutch newspapers from the period 1850 – 1930 also made clear what plans the Dutch made in order to deal with the unrests in Indonesia and to bring the country back under her control. For instance, the Dutch made plans laws and rules to keep the Indonesians from going in Hajj. The newspaper Het Nieuws van den Dag wrote in 1884: “We have in the past made regulations to limit travel to Mekkah as much as possible.” The newspapers is referring to the Hajj regulation of 1859, under which aspiring pilgrims had to meet certain financial demands and which obliged them to report to the Dutch consulate in Jeddah upon their arrival, such that the Dutch government could keep an eye on them. Nevertheless, the desire to go on Hajj remained strong amongst Indonesians, and the motivating influence of the returning pilgrims on the resistance against the Dutch remained strong. So one gathers from a report in the newspaper Het Nieuws van den Dag in 1904: “It did not take long for the influence of those trips to strange places and of short and long stays in Mekkah to be felt. The pan-Islamist movement is its consequence. There was a time when people overestimated the influence of the Hajji’s; today, however, people underestimate them. For they are like a fuel, that becomes dangerous as soon as someone lights it. (…) The government must keep a close eye on things.”

Because the Dutch could not simply ban the Hajj – that would undoubtedly have caused a mass uprising of the Indonesians – some analysts advised the Dutch administration to ensure stronger controls over those who went on Hajj. The newspaper het Nieuws van den Dag in 1884 published an opinion piece suggesting the Dutch government send spies along with the Hajji’s: “It is not in the mosque, nor in the langgar[1] that the seeds of religious hatred and fanaticism are being sown, it is in the desa’s[2] and the kampongs[3] and in the remote homes of the natives. That is where the Hajj makes his sneaky rounds (…). Reliable Indonesian Europeans, who speak the Java, Malay, Soenda or Madoera languages[4], should be send to these places (Mekkah, Madinah) by the government as secret police.” When in 1885 the Dutch government sent its foremost orientalist Christiaan Snouck Hurgronje to Mekkah to spy on the Indonesian Muslims, it followed this advise.

Once they returned back to Indonesia the Dutch government sought to limit the influence of the Hajji’s. In 1889 an opinion piece in the newspaper Algemeen Handelsblad advised the colonial administration to bring mosques and madrassas under her control such that the classes taught about Islam would be under her control: “It cannot be understood. They see the evil. They are warned about it from various sides. Yet they leave it be to grow! This has been the attitude of our colonial administration over recent years against the calls for revolt coming from pan-Islamism. (…) Mister Van den Berg assures us that the lectures that are read out in the mosques ‘breed the the most evil spirits against the rule of the christians’. Hence, we consider a decent control over the ideas that are being taught and that undermine our lawful rule, necessary.

The fear – and hate! – for Islam and the Islamic State was indeed of such proportions that the Dutch colonial took advice such as this one, and had every Muslim who spoke about the Caliphate arrested and thrown into prison: “The law for natives threatens any religious leader with hard labour ranging from three months to five years, if during public meetings he criticizes the governments or calls for hate against it, or motivates the people to resistance or revolt.” According to some analysts, however, these steps did not yet go far enough. In the newspaper Het Nieuws van den Dag the government is called upon to make any talk about the Islamic State an act of treason: “Whoever revives amongst the natives the misguided idea that they have anything to do with the Turkish Caliph, in effect commits an act of treason against our rule”. To be clear, the defined punishment for this kind of treason was death. So what the suggestion to the Dutch government really called for, was killing everyone who even spoke about the Caliphate.

“Whoever revives amongst the natives the misguided idea that they have anything to do with the Turkisch Caliph, in effect commits an act of treason against our rule”. An opinion piece in the newspaper Het Nieuws van den Dag voor Nederlandsch-Indië, June 10th, 1915

What the Dutch government and opinion leaders wanted to achieve with all this is clear to see. They wanted to break any contact between the Islamic State Al Khilafah and ban the idea of the Caliphate from the minds of the Indonesian Muslims.

Conclusion: Was the Indonesian resistance against Dutch colonialism nationalistic, or Islamic?

Obviously, there is a big difference between the Indonesian resistance against Dutch colonialism as is described in today’s history books; and the same resistance as it is described in the newspapers of those days. And this difference means the tempu dulu of the history books never really existed; and the “occasional nationalistic resistance” is nothing but a myth.

The truth about the Indonesian resistance against Dutch colonialism is found in the newspapers of those days. And they describe the resistance as being massive, inspired by Islam, and aim for reunification of the Indonesian Muslim land with the orher Muslim lands within the Caliphate.

“The Hajj to Mekka en her importance to our Eastern province”, an article in the newspaper Het Vaderland, November 11th, 1938

The analyses in the Dutch newspapers of the destruction of the Caliphate further prove this. After the destruction of the Islamic State the lands of the Muslims were further broken up into separate entities. The area of the Hejaaz came under the rule of the Al Saud family, whose appearance was indeed Islamic but whose contents was not. According a former Dutch consul in Jeddah, a mister Van der Meulen, the consequence of all this was that the Hajj needn’t be considered a threat to the Dutch rule in Indonesia any longer, after it had been designated as the number one threat for close to a century. Mister Van der Meulen set out his views during a gathering of the Indonesian Organization[5] in 1938. He said, according to the newspaper Het Vaderland: “De Hajj to Mekka, under the present conditions, with a king of Al Saud who fights against pan-Islamist and communist actions, en who is open about his appreciation of our rule in Indonesia, is no longer a threat to our rule”. And this can be understood as meaning only one thing. And that is that the strong bond between the Islamic State Al Khilafa and the Muslims of Indonesia had al along between the real problem for Dutch colonialism. Only because of this bond the Hajj had been considered a fundamental issue. And without that bond the Hajj was no longer an issue. That is why The Netherlands too was more than pleased when in 1924 the Islamic State Al Khilafah was destroyed by its fellow colonialists, Great-Britain and France.


Other Parts of this Article

The Caliphate in the Dutch media: The resistance against Dutch colonialism in Indonesia – Part 1

The Caliphate in the Dutch media: The resistance against Dutch colonialism in Indonesia – Part 2


[1] Indonesian for small mosque, prayer room.

[2] Indonesian for small village.

[3] Indonesian for village.

[4] The languages of the major tribes in Indonesia.

[5] This organization was what today would be called a “think tank”. It advised the government on policy issues related to Indonesia.

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