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.