Indonesia: Pagans Defeat Islam

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February 19, 2006: The mob violence, sparked by Islamic radicals distributing some Danish cartoons, has shown up in the world's largest Moslem nation. But in Indonesia, the few demonstrations featured eggs, not grenades, being thrown at Western embassies. There were no deaths, Few Indonesians see Islamic purity as worth dying for. While Islamic terrorism and religious intolerance are present in Indonesia, it is quite different from what exists in the Middle East. Indonesia is on the fringe of the Moslem world, and like most fringe areas, orthodoxy is less popular and pure. The Islamic fundamentalists who created Wahhabism and al Qaeda don't have wide appeal in Indonesia, where Islam did not replace earlier religions, as much as it merged with them. Not officially, of course. But in practice, Islam, as practiced by most Indonesians, could get you beheaded back in Saudi Arabia. The Islamic terrorists in Indonesia are recruited from urban groups that are trying to ape the Islamic hard core back in the Middle East. This has set up a classic "city slicker versus the country folk" situation. Most Indonesians see nothing good coming from the Islamic radicalism. The one appealing aspect of Islamic radicals, to clean up the government corruption, never materialized. The Islamic militants were found to be corrupt as well, and their terrorism has hurt the economy. The Islamic radical attacks on Indonesian traditions (for being "unIslamic" or just sinful) was not appreciated either. Attacks on non-Moslem Indonesians has not produced any benefits. In short, Islamic radicalism has been a failure to most Indonesians. There are still thousands of true believers in the cause, but with most Indonesians against them, it's hard to plan and carry out terrorist attacks when everyone is out to turn you in.

February 16, 2006: A judge sentenced an Islamic terrorist, Asep Jaya, to death, for attacks on police and Christians in the Maluku islands over the past two years.

February 9, 2006: Only half the navy's 121 ships and half of the air force's 114 aircraft are operational. In army is not much better off, with only a few of the 100 or so combat battalions up to strength, well trained and equipped. The force has been adequate for fighting Islamic and separatist rebels, but the generals and admirals want to be able to deal with foreign foes. This will require a lot of cash, and some reforms.

 

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