September 15, 2009:
In Aceh province, long the most religious part of the country, Islamic conservatives managed to get a law passed implementing stoning to death, for adulterers. Many in Aceh oppose this aspect of Sharia (Islamic law), and the stoning law is not expected to survive opposition. By allowing some Sharia law, Islamic conservatives calmed down, and provided no significant support for Islamic terrorists. The new stoning law is partly the result of Islamic parties losing control of the provincial legislature in recent elections. Thus this, and many other Sharia related laws, are likely to be repealed by the incoming (less Islamic) legislators.
Meanwhile, next door, a local Islamic court in Malaysia (where Sharia is also popular) sentenced a Moslem man to be canned (whipped) and fined $1400 for drinking alcohol in public (Sharia forbids alcoholic drinks for Moslems). A lot of Moslems (and many more non-Moslems, who are 40 percent of the population) in Malaysia drink, and the Islamic conservatives seek to catch some of them in the act and have them arrested and prosecuted for violating Sharia. This has generated a lot of opposition (by Moslems and non-Moslems) to Islamic radicals.
What bothers Islamic radicals the most is that so many Indonesians, while Moslems, are not really into Islamic conservatism, much less radicalism or terrorism. Most Indonesians think nothing of turning Islamic terrorists over to the police. This forces Islamic radicals to spend most of their time just making sure their efforts remain secret from the police. This has slowed down Islamic radical activities in Indonesia considerably.
East Timor is ignoring outrage from NGOs, and many of its own citizens, and releasing Indonesians responsible for the violence that killed thousands during the battle for independence, in the 1990s. Economic and political ties to Indonesia are more important, often in the form of bribes (of varying degrees of illegality), which have more influence on government decisions. Most Indonesians consider the establishment of East Timor in 2002 as nothing less than foreign interference and stealing of part of Indonesia. Australian soldiers led the peacekeeping force during this operation, and Indonesians hold Australia largely responsible for this "land grab". The rest of the world accuses Indonesia of atrocities in their brutal treatment of the population in East Timor, beginning when Indonesia took over the province after the Portuguese colonial government left in the 1970s (and East Timors declaration of independence was ignored.) But East Timor was always a very poor, and small (1.1 million people) part of Indonesia, and an even more poverty stricken independent nation. East Timor is propped up by foreign aid and growing business with neighboring Indonesia. Foreigners and Indonesians are finding that bribe money goes a long way in East Timor.
Australia, seeking to slow down the flow of illegal migrants from Afghanistan, offers those caught in Indonesia (where people smugglers arrange the final leg, by boat, to Australia, where the illegal's claim asylum and use the legal system to stay as long as possible) $2,000 each to go back to Afghanistan. Some $8 million has been spent on this program, and it is leading hundreds of Afghans to return. Many Australians oppose illegal migrants, who come into the country as criminals, and often continue their criminal ways, even to the extent of providing support for Islamic terrorist activities.
September 12, 2009: Once more , gunmen fired on a bus transporting workers to a huge mining complex in Papua. There were apparently four gunmen involved (who got away) and two security guards were wounded. Since July, there have been several attacks, leaving three dead and fifteen wounded. Police have been unable to determine who is responsible (separatists, angry locals, unhappy employees).