Sunday, April 9, 2017

Marvel Comic Used in Indonesian Politics

Last week, Marvel released a new X-Men comic book series called X-Men Gold #1. A controversy arose when people started to point out some symbols the artist, Ardian Syof, had drawn into the book. The symbols don't mean anything out of the context of Indonesian politics and culture, but once you are clued in you can't see anything else. The symbols include:  "QS 5:51",  "212", "51".  has really good article about this entitled Marvel Responds to X-Men Gold Artist Controversy and for a good explanation of the politics of these symbols in Indonesia please read Marvel will discipline an X-Men artist after controversial references to protests in Indonesia. In this blog post I want to focus on the "QS 5:51" symbol. Reportedly it is a reference to Surah 5:51 in the Quran.According to the CBR article:

Syaf, who is Indonesian, drew X-Men character Colossus wearing a T-shirt reading “QS 5:51,” meaning Quran Surah 5:51 — a verse of the Quran, as relayed by Bleeding Cool, commonly translated in Indonesian as “Muslims should not appoint the Jews and Christians as their leader.” The translation reads, “O you who have believed, do not take the Jews and the Christians as allies. They are [in fact] allies of one another. And whoever is an ally to them among you – then indeed, he is [one] of them. Indeed, Allah guides not the wrongdoing people.”

This caught my attention because I thought that all Muslims would have translated this passage the same. I usually have heard it quoted the way renders the verse. But given the political climate in Indonesia with a Christian running for president in Muslim majority nation, it's not surprising that they would understand the passage this way. It's the backlash that is throwing me. People seem to be angry that including this message encourages division and persecution against Christians and Jews. I agree. But why is it no one is seems to be discussing if the Quran is right or wrong on this? I have not found any Muslims responding that this passage is not divisive or intolerant. From  my own reading and study I would conclude that the Quran is endorsing Muslims  hating and subjugating Christians and Jews. I think that 1this important because some radicalized Muslims use this passage as justification for their actions. For example, this verse is cited by ISIS member for when they do things like blowing up churches in Egypt yesterday, April 9, 2017. They see it as a licence for the evil they do against others. If they have the wrong interpretation, then what is the correct understanding of Surah 5:51. Here is a video to consider,