Western Australian reverts in Indonesian Prison
Jake Drage is reported to have reverted to Islam while awaiting trial in an Indonesian prison after being accused of accidentally killing an Indonesian mother in a reckless motorcycle attack. Many might doubt his motives believing that he is only converting to gain favour in the courts. This might be true, but the alternative is also a possibility: when one hits rock bottom they start looking for ways to improve their life. Many people have successfully reverted to Islam in prison or became religious in prison. One can refer to Shaykh Hamid Waqar’s autobiography Over the Wall or brother Abdullah Mujahid’s Memoirs from San Quentin for such stories.
Another interesting point mentioned in the article that will be posted below is about a previous reported reversion to Islam by a Bali woman in an Indonesian prison. Michelle Leslie started wearing the hijab while in prison on a drug charge. Many doubted her intentions and thought she was trying to gain favour in the courts as well. After release she stopped wearing the hijab, at least exclusively, and made comments which may support the doubters. The interesting point is not this. Rather, the reason that she provided for wearing the hijab in the first place. She explained why she wore it by stating that she was afraid of being sexually assaulted, and wore it to protect herself when she faced the media scrum. Many use this explanation to support the claim that hijab actually protects women – not ostracise them.
The Australian News reported the following:
A WEST Australian man accused of reckless driving which killed a local woman has revealed he’s converted to Islam while in prison.
Jake Drage, 23, appeared in court for the first time since the June 30 crash and says he has converted to Islam while in custody.
The former personal trainer was speeding when his motorbike collided with another in Indonesia, killing a local mother, a court heard.
He has been charged with “reckless” driving causing the death of a West Java woman who was riding pillion on a motorcycle with her teenage daughter.
A smiling Drage arrived at court on Tuesday, clean shaven and wearing black pants and a white shirt.
He told reporters he felt fine, and thanked them for paying attention to his case.
Asked to state his religion by the judge, Drage answered in Indonesian: “Learning Islam.”
Drage’s lawyer, Michael Hartono, told reporters his client had converted to Islam during his long detention in the police cell and attended weekly Koran recitals.
“His family, in this case his mother, hasn’t made a big deal of Jake becoming a Muslim,” he said.
“What matters most is that he’s healthy, he’s fine and he’s on the right path.
“Regarding the case, Jake tells me that he just wants this to be over soon.”
Prosecutor Eka Aryanta is pressing charges that could see the Australian spend up to six years in jail if he’s found guilty. He told the court Drage was heading for a surf when his speeding bike collided with the other motorcycle.
“Because of the high speed, the accident was unavoidable,” the prosecutor said.
“The victim was thrown and hit the asphalt, and there was blood everywhere.
“Jake screamed, ‘Oh my God!’ while the victim was helped by bystanders.” Drage’s family has said he will plead not guilty.
His mother, Tiena Drage, who rushed to her son’s side soon after the crash, was in court on Tuesday.
His conversion to Islam is not the first time a jailed Australian in Indonesia has taken up the faith.
Michelle Leslie, who was arrested in Bali in 2005 after two ecstasy pills were discovered by police in her handbag, also converted.
During her imprisonment, Leslie began wearing Islamic dress and said she had converted to the Islamic faith about 18 months before her arrest.
Some argued that her conversion was much more recent and an attempt to win favour in court.
In an interview after her release, she stated that she did not “really know what makes you or not makes you a Muslim”, and that she was “not a practising Muslim”.
Years later, her religious beliefs continued to spark debate with accusations that she was an “on-again, off-again Muslim model” and that she had “introduced the world to disposable Islam”.
The change in dress that coincided with her announcement led to further debate, with Leslie choosing to don a burqa on one occasion when she appeared in court, and opting to wear Islamic dress, such as traditional Muslim hijab, until she was released.
Strong criticism emerged upon her release when she was seen wearing tight-fitting clothes without the hijab on her departure from the prison.
Once she had returned to Australia, the President of the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils, Ameer Ali, recommended that she refrain from returning to her former career as “a model for lingerie and underwear”, as such behaviour was “not allowed in Islam”.
In explaining her reasons for adopting the dress, Leslie stated in an interview for 60 Minutes that the reason she started wearing the hijab while incarcerated was because she was afraid of being sexually assaulted, and to protect herself when she faced the “media scrum”.
Her decision to wear traditional Islamic dress for protection has since been raised as a defence of sharia law, as it has been suggested that she demonstrated how the “requirement for Muslim women to cover themselves was meant to protect them”.