Indonesia: January 15, 2004


Opinion polls show that only 14 percent of the population support the imposition of Islamic (Sharia) law, and Islamic conservatism in general. A minority in this group support Islamic radicalism, and organizations like al Qaeda. The Islamic radicals have responded by increasing their vigilante activity against "unislamic activity and vice." But this can range from women wearing short skirts to destroying night clubs and assaulting the patrons. Police, and the public, have become less tolerant of the Islamic vigilantes, and there has been violent resistance. Meanwhile, Islamic activist members of parliament are proposing laws that would introduce Sharia gradually. The majority in parliament has resisted this, and as Islamic radicals increase their violent acts, Sharia becomes less popular. 

Police in Sumatra island killed one Aceh separatist and arrested eight others and accused them of setting off a January 4th bomb in Sumatra. Another bomb was found and defused. There were no injuries. The Aceh separatists, under increasing pressure from army and police in Aceh, are trying to take the war to other parts of Indonesia. But they have not had much success.




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