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Banking

Religion and the rites of capitalism

Jakarta, Indonesia's chaotic capital, offers a fascinating view of the clash between capitalism and Islam, as Chris Leahy explains

Nowhere is the clash between capitalism and Islam more apparent than on the steamy streets of Jakarta, Indonesia's chaotic capital. While the city sports the trimmings of a Muslim nation, mosques and minarets dotted haphazardly across the concrete sprawl, at street level, Jakarta throbs with the familiar trappings of other poor Asian cities.

Choking traffic crawls along crumbling highways as nearly 10 million people hustle for a living any way they can. There is no end to the capitalist zeal. Youths peddle warm bottled water car by car on the dusty roads and men of all ages race up and down clogged back streets, whistles blowing, clutching fistfuls of soiled Rupiah notes, collecting fees from local motorists desperate to find a parking place anywhere they can.

Lurking urchins

"It's around Rp2,000 for a space," explains Gus, the hotel driver as the parking 'attendant' waves manically at him, arms flailing in different directions, guiding him into an impossibly tight gap on the potholed pavement. The panicked attendant sprints off, chasing a smart RV that has just pulled out of a slot on his patch. An electric window lowers and a few notes are thrust into his hand.

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