Indonesia: March 19, 2004


National elections next month have the government backing off on many anti-terrorism measures. The local al Qaeda affiliate, Jemaah Islamiah, still has an active membership in Indonesia, even though has been outlawed. Politicians have found that being "more Islamic than thou" is an easy way to attract votes. The idea that the world is against Islam, and that all Moslems must unite for mutual defense, is a powerful one. Thus attacks on Islamic terrorist groups like Jemaah Islamiah, is increasingly unpopular. This is especially true when it is discovered that many Jemaah Islamiah members are associated with popular Islamic religious leaders. The government does not want to lose the money foreign tourists, and investors, bring in, but they don't want to lose the votes of all those Indonesians who believe the country's woes are all the result of an international conspiracy against Islam. The war on terror, and the overthrow of Saddam Hussein by American troops are both seen as "anti-Islamic" by many Indonesians.




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