Indonesia: Religious War Brewing

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December9, 2006: The Indonesian parliament passed a law that requires every citizen to declare what their religion is. However, only six religions are recognized (Islam, Protestantism, Catholicism, Hinduism, Buddhism and Confucianism). Many Indonesians still practice traditional (pagan) religions, and others following modern religions not "officially recognized" fear persecution. Some 90 percent of the 220 million Indonesians are Moslem. The new law is seen as a ploy by Islamic conservatives to halt the spread of religions that seek converts (increasingly successfully) among Moslems. There is also a growing split between Islamic conservatives (influenced by hardcore Arabian Islamic practices) and the more traditional Indonesian approach to Islam (which incorporated many pre-Islamic religious practices.)

December 8, 2006: In East Timor, police and New Zealand peacekeepers confronted several gangs, and when they encountered violence, arrested 17 people. The gangs have been out of control, especially since the unemployment rate is over 30 percent, and there are lots of young men looking for economic opportunities (legal or otherwise.)

In Papua, Indonesian security forces clashed with tribal separatists, leaving one soldier and one rebel dead.

December 4, 2006: The government has made a number of deals with Russia. One includes buying about a billion dollars worth of weapons. Others involves assistance in building nuclear power plants, and working with Russia to get the best price for Indonesian oil.

December 1, 2006: In East Timor, the UN is taking over responsibility for policing the entire country. This came after negotiations between the East Timor government and the UN. It was all because the newly reconstituted East Timor police force was not up to the task, and had allowed the crime rate to keep going up. There are currently about a thousand UN police in the country, with another 600 on the way. The UN police will maintain order, as well as training East Timorese police.

 

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