Indonesia: Religious Radicals Defeated


May 23, 2009: The Islamic political parties, humiliated by the losses in last month's parliamentary elections, are looking for a new strategy. The Islamic parties still have enough seats in parliament to be needed for the formation of a ruling majority. However, the Islamic party leaders admit that they can no longer demand the strict lifestyle laws that their radicals members have always insisted on. Many of the laws already passed are going to be repealed. Opinion surveys and news stories found that many religious Indonesians switched their support away from Islamic candidates because of the radical religious laws, especially the ones seen as oppressive to women.  Secular candidates still have to stress how anti-corruption they are, as this is still a big selling point for the Islamic parties. But the lifestyle laws hurt the popularity of the religious parties much more than the Islamic radicals believed they would. It's unclear how the Islamic radicals will react, as they are still in shock from the election losses.

Deprived of their ability to pass laws, Islamic clerics are trying to persuade Indonesians to behave on Facebook. This popular social networking site is the most visited Internet service in the country, and Indonesians account for four percent of all Facebook activity. While most Indonesians use Facebook to keep in touch with family and friends, young men and women use it to flirt. For Moslems, this is considered sinful, and Indonesian clerics are trying to stop this disgraceful behavior. The clerics appear doomed to fail, and the Islamic radicals don't have an obvious target for their anger. It's hard to send a suicide bomber after a web site.

May 20, 2009:  An Air Force C-130 transport crashed, in clear weather, killing most of the 105 passengers. The aircraft was apparently overloaded and poorly maintained. Air force officials denied there was anything wrong, but for the last few years, Indonesian aircraft maintenance, both civil and military, has been under international attack. Tourists are warned by their governments to avoid some of the most dangerous Indonesian airlines. Indonesia's military aircraft are old, and many technical personnel are selected and supervised by corrupt officers. Money for aircraft maintenance (personnel, training, spare parts, technical services) is often stolen by senior officers or politicians.

May 6, 2009: Jemaah Islamiyah leader, Mas Selamat Kastari, who escaped from a Singapore prison in February, 2008, has been recaptured. The government was very embarrassed by the escaped, and several security officials lost their jobs over the incident.




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