Indonesia: December 5, 2004


The newly elected government is trying to figure out how to handle the separatist movements in Aceh (at the far western tip of Indonesia) and Papua (at the far east). Aceh has gas and oil deposits the locals want more benefit from. The Papuans are of different ethnicity and religion than most Indonesians, and want no part of being Indonesian. The government can hold onto both areas by force. But that is expensive in terms of lives, money and public relations. But coming up with another solution is not easy. A solution is also needed for the growing popularity of Islamic radicalism. Most Indonesians, especially in the countryside, practice a mellow form of Islam that is still heavily influenced by pre-Islamic religions. But in the cities, it is fashionable among the young to get tight with old school Islam and radicalism. This is al Qaeda grade Islam, and the government is trying to stamp it out.




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