Indonesia: March 8, 2004


The courts have again cut the sentence of terrorist religious leader Abu Bakar Bashir. It appears that Bashir will be released in April, just in time to influence the vote of Islamic conservatives among the voters. Many Indonesians, not just Islamic conservatives, believe the government caved to foreign pressure when it cracked down on Islamic radicals. While most Indonesians are against terrorism, they are also sensitive to foreign governments telling them what to do. Indonesians are more concerned with separatism in Aceh and Papua than they are with Islamic radicals. Or so goes the conventional wisdom. The elections next month may clarify the situation.


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