Indonesia: The Cultural Friction Will Continue


December 11, 2011: While Islamic terrorists have been beaten down, Islamic radicals, and their violent intolerance, are still active. In Aceh, the only province with Islamic (Sharia) law, Islamic radicals constantly call for more strict application of lifestyle laws. Yet most people in Aceh want less. There is growing resentment at how the rich and powerful can ignore Islamic law in their gated communities, where bribes or powerful friends keep the religious police out. In several parts of the country local Islamic radical groups pressure the police and local government to cooperate in persecuting non-Moslems but there is strong resistance among Moslems and non-Moslems to Islamic law.

While there are still some national Islamic conservative organizations, the Islamic terrorists are all local. National terrorist organizations have been broken up and attempts to build new ones are thwarted by the fact that forming and running national organizations requires more communication and travel. The police have proved very adept at detecting this activity and arresting those involved. So the terrorists have learned to remain isolated and continue to plan attacks. But these efforts are crude and much less effective. A favorite target is public officials who refuse to back Islamic law. This threat usually causes officials to encourage even more police action against Islamic radicals. But all the Islamic radical stuff on the Internet and the appeal to the young and clueless of becoming an "Islamic warrior" continues to attract enough new recruits to keep the Islamic terrorist threat real.

In Papua, which is largely Christian, the government has announced a new approach to the unrest there. Some new solutions are needed because the old ones have not worked. The Papuans are also culturally different than the majority Malays of Indonesia and want independence, or a lot more autonomy. Instead, the government is offering more economic development and sensitivity to local religious and cultural concerns. The Papuans also want less (or no) Malay migration to Papua. That is not going to happen, so the cultural friction will continue.

In East Timor the situation has calmed down. Earlier this year the local police took over responsibility for law and order and have been successful. As a result, the 1,300 strong UN police peacekeeping force will end six years of service next year.

December 3, 2011:  In Papua, two policemen were killed and several hundred soldiers and police were sent out to find the killers.

November 25, 2011: Police arrested three terror suspects in Central Sulawesi.

November 16, 2011: Over the weekend seven more terror suspects were arrested. This makes 18 members of a terrorist cell arrested since their leader, Abu Omar, was captured four months ago in Borneo. Abu Omar had long been sought, as he had been active since the 1990s and had participated in numerous attacks. Abu Omar and his followers were bringing weapons and explosives in from the Philippines, via Malaysia, in an attempt to carry out some large attacks, kidnappings, and assassinations in Indonesia.

November 12, 2011: Outside the capital police arrested three more Islamic terrorists. Documents captured with the men indicating they were connected with the Abu Omar group. The three were apparently planning an attack on the Singapore embassy.




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