Indonesia: Someone Else's Problem

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November 29, 2007: Although Islamic radicals have halted their bombing campaign, they are still active in fighting non-Moslems. That's not hard to do, since about 20 percent of Indonesians are Christian or Hindu. The Islamic radicals insist that Indonesia is a "Moslem state" and Islam must be supreme. In the past, the government tended to say, "yeah, sure, of course", and do nothing. But the current generation of Islamic conservatives and radicals are taking to the streets to enforce Islamic supremacy. Recently, a forty year old Christian church was shut down by Islamic radicals, who seek to chase Christians (who seek converts) from majority Moslem parts of the country. This often leads to violence.

The Islamic radicals understand that the terrorism approach, especially bombings, does not work, and is counterproductive. Pressuring the government, and encouraging street level action (to shut down "un-Islamic" activities like drinking, movies or music) is now the most popular tactic. These activities put the government in a bind. In tourist areas, the "un-Islamic" activities are the backbone of the local economy, and violence against them is very unpopular. Local Moslems have confronted the radicals in these situations, and forced the radicals to look elsewhere. The radicals keep looking, and are a nuisance, and potential trouble, that never goes away. Old timers recognize this pattern. The Islamic radicalism never really disappears, and erupts into violence every few decades. After a while, everyone, including most of the true-believers, realize that radicalism doesn't work, and peace prevails until another generation of radicals hits the streets.

What still makes Indonesia dangerous is that there are still several hundred Islamic terrorists in hiding, waiting for the right moment to resume violent actions for the cause. Some of the Islamic radicals can be persuaded to assist the Islamic terrorists, and that's a combination that leads to bombings and mass murder. The government is content to wait it out, believing that cracking down on the Islamic radicals might make the radicals more popular. Police are content to drive Islamic terrorists out of the country, where they can become someone else's problem.

 

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