Indonesia: Islamic Radicals Still Reeling


December 7, 2009: President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has become very unpopular since he wavered when confronted with a police conspiracy to frame anti-corruption officials, and stop halt anti-corruption efforts in general. The police conspiracy was found out, and several senior police officials resigned. Yudhoyono was elected in July (and took office two months ago) on the promise that he would do something about corruption. No one said it would be easy, especially since two of the most corrupt institutions in the government are the police and the courts.

Islamic radicals continue to scramble to regain the power and prestige they have lost since September 11, 2001. Several years of Islamic terrorism in the country, after 2001, were followed by a backlash that has still not abated. Despite years of effort, only one (of 33) provinces (Aceh) has adopted Sharia (Islamic) law. This has resulted in teams of men acting as lifestyle police, and looking for couples displaying affection, or women who are not covered up. Sharia is more of a hassle for women than men, and was instituted mainly to deal with corruption. But the usual suspects were able to bribe the Sharia judges as easily as their predecessors. So the only victims are people caught kissing in public, or women wearing tight jeans, and no scarf on their heads. This has further discredited Islamic conservatives, and those who advocate Islamic terrorism as a tool for positive change.

Islamic radicals are trying to get public enthusiasm for Sharia by claiming that Islamic law would deal with corruption and the spread of AIDs. But most voters are not impressed, and still see Islamic radicals as, for the most part, a source of Islamic terrorism. This kind of violence is very unpopular with most Indonesians, and that makes it very difficult for Islamic terrorists to recruit, much less operate, in the country. Those who have fled to Malaysia and the Philippines have found equally toxic conditions.

December 1, 2009:  Some 15,000 additional soldiers and police were moved into Papua, to deal with any violence that might develop during today's anniversary celebration of the 1961 independence of the province from Dutch colonial rule. But then the Indonesians came in and took over, and the Papuans are still steamed about that. But the Papuans themselves are too divided by tribal loyalties to mount much of an independence effort.

November 21, 2009: A navy ship intercepted an illegal shipment of 75 tons of ammonium nitrate. This stuff is normally used as fertilizer, but over 90 percent of it arriving in Indonesia is used to make explosives (for construction, fishing). Islamic terrorists have also used ammonium nitrate for bombs, thus the military and police are vigilant about detecting large shipments of the stuff.


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