Ahmad Dhani and his band Dewa are on the front line of a global conflict, defending Islam from its fanatical hijackers. They seek to rescue a generation from extremists, writes the former president of Indonesia in an unusual column in the American newspaper the Washington Post
In the first month following its release, the album shipped over 150,000 copies. Not to mention that after the protests concerning its cover — which resembles calligraphy forming the name of Allah — the album leapt back into the public spotlight and its rate of sales doubled. An estimated two million copies of ‘Laskar Cinta’ are currently in circulation.
In October 2005, Ahmad Dhani received new international attention when the former president of Indonesia, Abdurrahman Wahid, wrote a column praising his courage in the Washington Post in USA. He had written it together with C. Holland Taylor who is the chairman of Libforall Foundation, a nonprofit organisation that works to reduce religious extremism and discredit the use of terrorism.
The authors described how Ahmad Dhani and the other members of Dewa have presented the youth of the world’s largest muslim population with a stark choice: Do they want to join the army of jihad, or the army of love?:
In response, reports the columnists, radical Muslim groups have accused Dhani — a devout Sufi, or mystically inclined Muslim — of being an infidel, an apostate (code words inciting violence) and a Zionist agent. They have hauled him into court on charges of defaming Islam and seek to ban his use of rock music to promote a spiritual and progressive interpretation of Islam that threatens the appeal of their own Wahhabi-inspired extremism. Dhani, father of three children, was hauled into a Jakarta police station on a complaint issued by the Front for the Defense of Islam (a radical Islamist group), and he was denounced before the High Court by a Jakarta native named Ridwan Saidi who accused him of religious heresy.