In Indonesia, radical Muslims are strong and getting stronger. This from Straits Times, with thanks to Nicolei:
LAST month, Indonesia’s Defenders of Islam Front (FPI) set up an ‘immorality watch’ squad to bring to book perpetrators of vice.
Over a hundred supporters of Islamic cleric Abu Bakar Bashir rallied in Jakarta and picketed the Supreme Court, urging judges to overturn the immigration violation ruling that keeps him behind bars for three years.
Bashir, meanwhile, was mobilising support among prisoners, telling them that the Bali bombers were ‘God’s fighters’, not terrorists.
Note well: this is how radical Muslims recruit all over the world: by appealing to the Islamic religious sensibilities of young Muslims. Meanwhile, this distinction between jihad and terrorism gives them an easy way to denounce terrorism when under pressure from the media or law enforcement officials.
Together with FPI leader Habib Mohamad Rizieq Syihab, he also issued a statement urging hardliners to push for syariah [that is, Sharia]implementation this year.
The ‘noise’ from radical Islamists has shot up in recent months. They are mobilising supporters, issuing decrees, preaching acrimony and lambasting the West for its war on terrorism.
This increased activity, however, is being ascribed by Indonesian observers to a loss of mainstream support:
Analysts say this is happening partly because their mainstream supporters – the pro-syariah parties – are distancing themselves.
Jakarta Post deputy editor Endy Bayuni said mainstream parties see their ties to the radicals – especially those connected to the bombings that have killed Muslims too – as a political liability.
This was further confirmed by the independent Indonesian Survey Institute’s latest poll results, released in November, which showed that only 14 per cent of 2,240 respondents supported the pro-syariah parties.
These being Vice-President Hamzah Haz’s United Development Party, the Crescent and Star party and the new Prosperous and Justice Party.
Mr Endy said mainstream parties want to renounce their links to the hardliners to regain legitimacy.
However, he told The Straits Times that these and other Islamist parties will continue to push for political Islam.
‘The Islamist parties have to be seen as trying to make good their promise to their constituents to fight for an Islamic state and the syariah,’ he said.
They had a victory in the national education Bill this year. The Bill, now law, requires that all schools provide Islamic teachers if they have Muslim students.
And now they are pushing for a Bill on religious tolerance, which critics say is really an attempt to thwart the spread of Christianity.
A draft of the Bill suggests that inter-religious marriage and inter-religious adoptions will be outlawed.
Political science expert Rizal Mallarangang told The Straits Times he expects the ‘noise’ from radicals to increase.
While this may not translate into political gains, it could work to ‘create an atmosphere of disturbance and hatred’, he said.