Why Bali will continue to be a target

by Rohin, on 1st October, 2005

Today the small Indonesian island of Bali was rocked by bomb attacks on two popular tourist areas, killing at least 22. BBC Coverage.

Bali is one of the most beautiful places I have visited. Nowadays, post-Jason Donovan and Ricky Martin, it’s known for its tourist trade as much as it is for its natural wonders. One can only hope that it doesn’t develop a new, darker claim to fame. However I fear that Bali may become one of the most popular targets for Islamist terrorists.

For those who believe in the supremacy of their warped Islamic beliefs, Bali represents a triple-whammy. Three reasons to target the jewel in Indonesia’s crown.

Indonesia is frequently referred to as the world’s most populous Islamic nation, people forget that it is just a truly immense country. Over 13,000 islands make up the vast archipelago, stretching more than 5000km across. The country has a tumultuous recent past and I honestly think that no country has seen quite so much change in the last 50 years. It lives in the shadow of its more successful neighbours, the Asian Tigers of Malaysia, Thailand and Singapore, which sometimes overshadows the strides forward that Indonesia has taken, like free elections being introduced seven years ago.

However, Indonesia is afflicted by several serious diseases. A nasty Asian strain of corruption, armed separatists in Aceh and Irian Jaya and a chronic case of terrorism.

V.S. Naipaul’s excellent book, Beyond Belief, examines how Indonesia has been affected by the recent and widespread embrace of Islam. With this, unfortunately came a firebrand fundamentalist streak, such that Indonesia has been described as ‘Al Qaeda’s next natural home.’

So why has Bali been hit by a series of attacks?

Reason 1
Indonesia’s census states almost 90% of Indonesia is Muslim. However in a few areas, namely Bali, Papua, East Nusa Tenggara and some areas hit by the tsunami in northern Sumatra, Muslims form a minority. You may not have heard of any on that list – with the exception of Bali. Militant Muslims bent upon increasing that 90% up to 100 do not like any of those areas, but Bali stands out. Papua and Aceh have violent armed militia patrolling their territories and Eastern Nusa Tenggara is a massively under-developed backwater. Bali, in contrast, produces vast sums of money and is a peaceful place, with no armed guerrillas to offer resistance to terrorists. It’s an easy target.

Bali 2002

Reason 2
India and Indonesia have intertwined histories. Before Islam came to Indonesia via India, the country was Hindu and Buddhist, two Indian religions. The Arab-centric ideologies supported by Islamist terrorists despise India and it despise Hinduism. Osama bin Laden himself has identified India as an enemy of the caliphate and Al Qaeda. With the Arabisation of Indonesia, Indian influences have been purged from the vast majority of the country. The largest Buddhist monument in the world and a contender for 8th wonder of the world, Borobodur, is left woefully under-maintained and under-advertised, as it is a Buddhist stupa in the heart of an Islamic Java.

Despite all attempts to erase India from Indonesia, Bali remained unchanged. Over 90% of the 1.81% of Indonesians who are Hindu reside in Bali. The very culture that attracts tourists in droves is the culture that the rest of the country has rejected – such as traditional Balinese dancing, which is rooted in Hindu mythology. Bali is a slice of ancient Indonesia. Bali is a Hindu infidel of an island. Worse still, Balinese Hindus are leading what is called the Hindu Revival. Read more about Hinduism in Bali and Indonesia.

Reason 3
The last reason Indonesian terrorists hate Bali is that it is a resounding success story. Jealousy is central to much of the moaning done by radical clerics and they hate the fact that Bali is thriving whilst much of Indonesia has criminal levels of poverty. And perhaps the main reason Bali is targeted at all is the cause of Bali’s wealth – Western tourists.

I say Western, but what I really mean is Australian. Australians have been enjoying the food, drink, sun and sand of Bali for decades. Now if you live on Bondi beach and still travel 1000s of miles for a holiday, it must be something special. Brits are also quite keen on Bali’s resorts. Australia and Britain – more enemies of fundamentalist Islam. Two coalition members, two aggressors against Islam, two friends of Zionist America and one more reason why a bomb in Bali makes headlines around the world, not just in the Indonesian press.

Balinese children

My heart is filled with sorrow when I think about the inevitable evil that will be unleashed on little Bali. Tourism is how it earns its keep and 3 years on from the 2002 attacks, the trade had just returned to normal, until today. It hasn’t invaded Iraq or given aid to Israel, yet as long as Bali is a peaceful island, populated by Hindus and enjoyed by white tourists, the diamond on Indonesia’s necklace is under constant threat from the new Islamist fascists.

Entry Filed under: Current affairs, Religion, The World

30 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Don  |  October 1st, 2005 at 10:46 pm

    I too mourn for beautiful Bali and it’s gentle people.

    And don’t forget reason 4; Australia supported the liberation of East Timur.

    It is not only Hindu culture and societies that are under pressure and threat; christian, animist, ethnic chinese, all live with the prospect of bloody supression and have done for decades.

  • 2. leon  |  October 2nd, 2005 at 12:59 am

    Good book:

    Terror Inc: Tracing The Money Behind Global Terrorism

    And for those who want the short and snappy overview:

    [QUOTE]Did you know…?

    1. The ‘New Economy of Terror’ is worth $1.5 trillion – that’s twice the entire GDP of the UK.
    2. Terrorism is funded through both illegal activity such as drugs, arms, gems and people smuggling, as well as through entirely legal operations from charities to legitimate business.
    3. In 2001 alone, the IRA raised $7 million through criminal activity.
    4. The smuggling of narcotics generates a turnover of around $400 billion a year.
    5. Of this $400 billion, as little as $1.4billion stays in the country of origin.
    6. The smuggling of people, weapons and other goods totals $100 billion.
    7. In Pakistan, a legally bought 21-inch Sony TV cost around $500. An illegally smuggled one cost 25% less.
    8. One of Osama bin Laden’s most profitable businesses is his Gum Arabic Company Ltd in Sudan – gum arabic is a substance used to stop sediment forming in soft drinks and to create a protective shell around sweets and pills. Gum Arabic Company Ltd supplies 80 per cent of the world’s demand for this product.
    9. In 2001, about $68 billion were given in aid to countries which produce drugs such as Afghanistan, or are drug transhipment points such as Chechnya. The bulk of this money never reached the needy, but went to sustain the drugs, smuggling and terror industries, which in turn shipped or spent the profits outside the country of origin.
    10. The budget to carry out the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Centre was only $500,000.[/QUOTE]
    More

    Also there’s this…

  • 3. Mokum  |  October 2nd, 2005 at 1:00 am

    e-Islam {A man once visited the Prophet’s mosque in Madina. There he saw a group of people sitting and discussing their faith together. Among them were Salman (who came from Persia), Suhayb who grew up in the Eastern Roman empire and was regarded as a Greek, and Bilal who was an African. The man then said:

    “If the (Madinan) tribes of Aws and Khazraj support Muhammad, (it is understood because they are Arabs like him) they are his people. But what are these (foreign) people doing here?” (Implying an obvious dislike for foreigners) The Prophet became very angry when this was reported to him. He went to the mosque and summoned people to prayer. He then addressed them saying:

    “O people, know that the Lord and Sustainer is One. Your ancestor is one; your faith is one. The Arabism of anyone of you is not (by virtue of the nobility of) your mother or father. It is no more than a tongue (language) The Prophet further said: Let people stop boasting about their ancestors. One is only a pious believer or a miserable sinner. All men are sons of Adam, and Adam came from dust (Abu Dawud, Tirmidhi). Humanity is one unit, the family of Allah. Its individuals are members of one society bound together by their common origin, which is so comprehensive that it includes all differences within its oneness. The Holy Prophet (saw) has said: Humanity is the family of Allah, the best human is one who is kind to His (Allahs) family. (Mishkat) Extending a helping hand to a foreigner is extending your hand to your own family member.}

  • 4. Sunny  |  October 2nd, 2005 at 3:33 pm

    It’s sick, I have to agree. I’m still to be convinced that these guys are directly connected to Al-Qaeda however. I reckon that these bast*rds from Indonesia were inspired by Al-Qaeda and may have gotten some help, but I’m sceptical of claims that AQ is spreading its tentacles confidently all over the world.

    Either way, the Indonesian govt should do more to crack down on them. They did the same with Aceh militants much more easily.

  • 5. David T  |  October 2nd, 2005 at 9:49 pm

    As Bin Laden put it, following the first bombing, in 2002:

    “We warned Australia before not to join in [the war] in Afghanistan, and [against] its despicable effort to separate East Timor. It ignored the warning until it woke up to the sounds of explosions in Bali “

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/international/story/0,3604,839588,00.html

  • 6. Sunny  |  October 3rd, 2005 at 1:13 am

    That was a lame attempt by OBL IMO to make himself look more powerful than he is. I bet he didn’t even know the bombings in Bali were taking place.

  • 7. Global Voices Online…  |  October 3rd, 2005 at 4:27 am

    […] At Pickled Politics, Rohin believes Bali will continue to be a target. Singaporeclassics examines the motivations and people behind the group Jemaah Islamiyah (JI), who are believed to be responsible for the attacks. […]

  • 8. Fabian  |  October 3rd, 2005 at 6:50 am

    “The largest Buddhist monument in the world and a contender for 8th wonder of the world, Borobodur, is left woefully under-maintained and under-advertised, as it is a Buddhist stupa in the heart of an Islamic Java.”

    Quite the contrary. There has been alot of restoration work on it, the grounds surrounding have been landscaped, the tourist support infrastructure is good, and on school holidays, you will not be able to move for the number of visiting school students.

  • 9. Siddhartha  |  October 3rd, 2005 at 8:30 am

    Is there a direct link between Osama bin Laden of Afghanistan and Noordin Top of Bali? I doubt it. Dropping the names in the same sentence/article are not going to make that concrete that link either and to do so is simply irresponsible. But that has never stopped the pro-War posse to make these claims. I wonder why?

  • 10. Luke  |  October 3rd, 2005 at 9:54 am

    Siddhartha

    Do tell us why, please, dying to know.

    Great article Rohin - thanks.

  • 11. hakmao  |  October 3rd, 2005 at 10:12 am

    aQ or JI, the argument stands.

  • 12. Siddhartha  |  October 3rd, 2005 at 11:59 am

    That was a cracking article by Rohin. Very subtle and balanced.
     
    I suspect the politics in Bali/Indonesia is very similar to other South Asian countries which have a large Muslim population  and a smaller minority Non-Muslim population (usually Hindu, Buddhist or Chinese) such as Indonesia, Malaysia, Bangladesh etc. We are all painfully aware of the growing upsurge of Islamist fundamentalist activity in these countries. Any analysis of the politics of these countries will show that this growth in Fundamentalist Islam has been growing over the past 10 years. That is, these countries have had to deal with home-grown terrorism and increased fanaticism before the West decided that Islam was the enemy du jour and began its War on Terrorism. But the point that is ignored is that this is a localised political phenomenon particular to the dynamics of each country. The Islamist Politics of these countries can be traced to events and individuals within these countries who are well known, have seats in their parliaments and move freely amongst the local people. They are NOT related to the phantom of Osama bin Laden, Master Terrorist of the World who sends instructions to these Islamists in coded messages broadcast by al-Jazeera. Thats a laughable Hollywood-style simplification of the politics on the ground in these countries.
     
    The point is that by giving linkage to these Islamists to Osama is to give them credence that they do not deserve. It gives them the unearned glamour of being associated with some anti-Western International Terrorist Syndicate, when no such linkage actually exists. But these Islamist movements benefit from that. They will not strive to deny it, it makes them ‘look good’ to their (local) enemies, and helps them recruit more disenfranchised loose young cannons from the populace, of which there is never a shortage in supply. In actual fact, all you are doing by making this un-verified and unproven link to OBL is to glamourise them.

    STOP DOING THIS.

    The intelligence behind any direct linkage to these Islamist groups and ‘Al-Qaeda’ is as real and truthful as the intelligence of WMDs in Iraq, or that Iraqi Shias would welcome the US army with flowers and sweets etc. The Pro-War community is doing themselves a dis-service whenever they make this claim. Not only are they perpetuating a myth they are also shooting themselves in the foot. One would have thought they have run out of feet by now.

    If you want to fight terrorism start with demystifying and de-glamourising it. Stop referring to every piss-poor bomb-maker as a member of Al-Qaeda. Start by decoupling the fanciful meme that there is a Organisational and structured link between the bombs detonated in Bali with those in Bangladesh or in Madrid.
     
    If you really want to help us defeat Islamist fundamentalism in countries like Bangladesh and Bali etc, get involved with organisations like Drishtipat. There is a London chapter. Its very much grassroots level and is hard work but ultimately satisfying because we are winning ground, albeit slowly. Though I have to warn you that getting involved with organisations like this does not have the instant gratification of posting ‘witty’ one-liners and ‘pithy’ innuendo from the comments boxes of Harry’s Place, Trots for War etc.

  • 13. Siddhartha  |  October 3rd, 2005 at 12:09 pm

    Sorry, link didn’t get encoded. That’s
    Drishtipat - fighting
    for human rights in Bnagladesh.

  • 14. Vikram Choudhury  |  October 3rd, 2005 at 7:09 pm

    I must protest your Reason 2.

    Indonesians (Javanese, Sundanese, and the other groups) are actually still very aware of their Indian influences, and although many practice a different religion now, they still enact the ramayana and mahabrata in shadow puppetry, they actively glorify their Hindu empire history, their dances are influenced by indian culture, etc. in fact, if look at indonesian muslims’ names they don’t even arabic/islamic names ! i have indonesian muslim friends whose names are Ananta (ananda), Sakti, etc.

    Indonesia (except Acheh, for historical reasons) has not undergone a shift to arab/islamic culture seemingly like that of Malaysia. in fact in my travels there i have seen much animistic traditions still practised by indonesians, and it is more dependent on regional factors rather than religious factors.

    I have been to Borobudur, and what you say is simply untrue.

    In my opinion, blaming all muslims just for a single muslim’s trangression is THE problem of terrorism. Was the entire Hindu population of India responsble for Ayodhya 1992?

  • 15. O'Ya Bula Bula Bi  |  October 3rd, 2005 at 7:36 pm

    Ronin / Bongo
    Good write up. But you have a quite few things wrong, and your fundamental understanding of Indonesia is wrong:

    However in a few areas, namely Bali, Papua, East Nusa Tenggara and some areas hit by the tsunami in northern Sumatra, Muslims form a minority.

    Northern Sumatra (Aceh) is not muslim minority. Infact its hardcore fundamentalist muslim majority. The rebels there want an Islamic state, much against what the rest of Indonesia wants.

    The largest Buddhist monument in the world and a contender for 8th wonder of the world, Borobodur, is left woefully under-maintained and under-advertised, as it is a Buddhist stupa in the heart of an Islamic Java.

    I am going to second with Fabian on this. Borobodur is heavily promoted. Infact the top 3 tourist destinations promoted in Indonesia are (i) Bali, (ii) Borobodur / Yogyakarta, and (iii) Lake Toba in Medan.
    The Indonesians take a lot of pride in Borobodur and the Prambanan temples.

    The very culture that attracts tourists in droves is the culture that the rest of the country has rejected – such as traditional Balinese dancing, which is rooted in Hindu mythology

    This is again incorrect. Balinese dancing is heavily promoted, just like the Wayang kulit performances - these are pupet shows depicitng the ramayana and go on for hours in the middle of the night. They are often even broadcast on TV. Kind of boring but again its Hindu mythology. And the people who perform and actually watch this are Muslims (by religion).

    Your fundamental understanding of Indonesia is wrong. I cant get into too much detail here, but to put it bluntly - only a small percentage of Indonesians are fundamentalists. To narrow it down further, the Javanese who form the majority and eseentially control most aspectsof the country take great pride in their heritage. So although they are majority muslims by religion, culturally they are still javanese - which is strongly corelated to Hinduism. Take for instance their names. Suharto (the ex president ) is muslim . Megawati (ex president) is also Muslim. Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (current president) is again Muslim.

    But I will agree with you that fundamentalism has been rising, even though its in the very very minority. And for comaprison sake - Malaysia is much more fundamentalist Islamic.

    Disclaimer: I have lived there for over 14 years, and still have affiliations to the country. Am also Indian and Hindu.

  • 16. Mokum  |  October 3rd, 2005 at 8:56 pm

    Siddhartha, I’ll a hazard a guess that you have it in for certain people and places because they hit a nerve. Just as I do and just as everybody does and so on to nirvana.

    So allow me to rant on the way.

    Above all, the “West” has not “decided” that Islam is the enemy, as you claim. Give me a break. Talk about stoking fantastic fires.

    Nor is Hollywood our leader. Shall I judge India by Bollywood (admittedly, that might be both fun and fair)? Collectively, we do know rather more than Sean Penn by now, but thanks for your concern.

    When it comes to terror, bin Ladenism, with or without Osama himself, is precisely what is going on, not local stories with an odd Islamic twist here and there. All infidels out, an Islamist state ruling the whole region, Arabization as the way forward - that is what these evil people want, in southeast Asia as in the southwest as in Araby and beyond.

    As for the man on the Afghan mountain sending out orders, well, precisely, that mountain doesn’t belong to him anymore, and that liberation had precious little to do with the grassroots.

    The grassroots are obviously important. I do think that is where the conflict will be won or lost, so more power to you.

    But Arabization as a proposal goes way beyond the grassroots and needs to be taken seriously everywhere, given the state of the Arab world today, the prophet’s own condemnation of popular prejudices in Islam, and the disgusting perversion of everything holy that the bombers are giving us in Allah’s name. The whole world has to fight back, together.

  • 17. Siddhartha  |  October 3rd, 2005 at 11:11 pm

    O’Ya Bula Bula Bi:

    Ronin / Bongo

    By that salutation, were you referring to Rohin and myself?
    If so, LOL. Haven’t been addressed as a Bongo in years. But I liked your post, so I’ll let you off. ;-)

  • 18. Siddhartha  |  October 3rd, 2005 at 11:16 pm

    As for the man on the Afghan mountain sending out orders, well, precisely, that mountain doesn’t belong to him anymore, and that liberation had precious little to do with the grassroots.

    Are you advocating a Tora-Bora like carpet bombing of Bali, Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan, large swathes of India, China, Turkey, Iran, should I go on?

    If so, Little Green Footballs and some contributors to Harry’s Place and Turds For War are the blogs you should be reading. ;-)

  • 19. Mokum  |  October 3rd, 2005 at 11:24 pm

    Siddhartha, you shouldn’t go on, no.

    Is that clear enough?

    See you around, soul.

  • 20. Sunny  |  October 4th, 2005 at 12:26 am

    Now now boys and girls, lets keep it civil shall we ;)

    I think the link between the Indonesian bombers and Al-Qaeda is somewhere in the middle. IE - they’re neither two seperate entities, neither are they part of the same organisation.

    Most certainly, the Indonesians are influenced by Al-Qaeda because they’re following a pattern that goes back a good few years, and the attacks are similar to the kind in places like Egypt.

    I don’t believe the governments of Blair and Bush have the best solution to the problem, but they are broadly right in that its impossible to “negotiate” with Al-Qaeda and their ilk. These guys want nothing less than our subjugation and death, pretty much like all deranged terrorists.

  • 21. Arif  |  October 4th, 2005 at 11:40 am

    When I read Rohin’s article I had an immediate prejudice/sense that it was projecting a set of assumptions based on partial experience. It was gratifying to have my own assumptions backed up by the different experiences of Vikram and O’Ya.

    I think my prejudice starts from remembering media reports of the 2002 Bali bombers which suggested they were very poorly informed and thought that as these were the nearest white foreigners, and that Americans are white foreigners, by bombing nightclubs they would be punishing America for its war in Afghanistan.

    To say that the bombers this time had a more sophisticated three-point reasoning based on attitudes to Hindus, Indians, Zionism, the UK and Australia seems a bit speculative. All three reasons given have some credibility, and could become part of an ideology of justification, which could then be used to keep up a motivation to bomb…. but even then it is giving a set of rationalisations for hate more intellectual back-up than it needs.

    It is a bit like arguing that the UK has managed a triple whammy through bombing Iraq: 1. maintaining its historical belief that it should rule over colonies, 2. fighting their religious enemy, 3. destroying an ancient civilisation which threatens the global takeover of western consumerism. There may be some unhinged people who might buy in to some of these arguments to justify bombing Iraq to themselves - but they are probably people who get caught up in fear or hatred and then find it easier to look for justifications to generalise their hostility rather than finding a way out. The arguments themselves are just symptoms.

    The Naipaul argument of Islam being a front for Arab imperialism is another thing which most of my own experience contradicts. I am sure some people in some places actually do relate to Islam in that way, otherwise perhaps Naipaul’s thesis would not be so enduring. In general, though, the tendency seems to be the other way around - local traditions are more likely to be falsely ascribed to Islam to try to butress them. Even the Salafi movements pick and choose the traditions of the comapnions of the prophet in ways that seem to allow them to live 21st century lifestyles, speak local languages, pracice local traditions etc.

    What is going on seems to me to be that we cultivate identities which make us feel good about ourselves, which are most likely to be defined against the enemies we most fear. This kind of identity gives us the warm glow of self-righteousness and makes it easier for us to forgive ourselves for our worst crimes.

    Nationalist and religious identities, while not always bad, seem to lend themselves easily to such a mindset. I think that taking on the identity of another culture just wouldn’t be so effective. I don’t think those British people who identify themselves with the US “war on terror” are being colonised by the US, even though that’s how opponents of US/UK foreign policy like to see it. And in the same way, as sunny says, JI supporters might identify themselves with OBL’s war on the US, without wanting to be “Arabised”.

  • 22. Rohin  |  October 5th, 2005 at 12:26 pm

    Sorry, been a bit busy recently. Only have a few minutes now too, so lots to respond to.

    First of all, I am quite willing to accept that I may have made some errors - I wrote this very very quickly in the middle of the night. I was pretty angry about the whole situation.

    OYBBB - If you’ve lived there for a long time then I’m sure you know more than me. But I too have spent a fair amount of time there and my dad used to work in Jakarta.

    Muslim minority areas - I was only aware of Papua and Bali, I looked the rest up here.

    Borobodur - When I visited, yes there were plenty of people there but there were no guides and we only heard about it through word of mouth, not an official Indonesian Tourist Board promotion. In fact my mum acted as tour guide for a large party of Americans who didn’t really know what they were looking at, explaining Buddha’s life. This is purely incidental and anecdotal evidence, but isn’t that what blogging is about?

    Promotion of Balinese/Hindu culture within Indonesia - if that’s what you say, then I’ll believe you.

    My fundamental understanding of Indonesia isn’t wrong, but my level of knowledge is far lower than yours. But why did you feel it necessary to emphasise that fundamentalists only make up a minority? At no point did I suggest otherwise. British Muslims are also a overwhelmingly peaceful group, yet there are a minority who are idiots. Same in Indonesia. Same round the world. I didn’t say that Indonesia is an Islamic state, I didn’t say the Indonesian government hate non-muslims, all I said is that Bali is under threat from the fundas inside their own borders.

    Arif I’m touched you immediately assumed I’m some prejudiced Islamophobe, but this has been inferred where it wasn’t implied.

    I don’t really understand your analogy to the bombing of Iraq at all. I think a far more apt analogy would be the London bombings. Iraq may have been a motive. Dissatisfaction with the British government for other reasons may have been a motive. Just being a murderous fascist may have been a motive. Your argument could be turned on its head. There is nothing more frustrating than hearing justifications and aportioning misplaced blame for murderous acts - when you and your loved ones are in the thick of the London bombs and people tell you “oh well it’s because of Iraq” it’s meaningless. I’m sure that innocent Iraqis who have lost their sons and daughters aren’t that moved by hearing “we are liberating you from your tyrannical dicatator”. I don’t buy any justification for the war in Iraq - that was equally illegal. Please don’t try to paint me as someone with an ulterior motive.

    Any attempt to get inside the mind of a suicide bomber is speculation, isn’t it? So why are you criticising me for trying to think of motives? I hope you said the same thing to those who attempted to rationalise the London bombings.

  • 23. nukh  |  October 5th, 2005 at 7:59 pm

    An excellent piece…many thanks.

  • 24. nukh  |  October 5th, 2005 at 8:06 pm

    “Hinduism is considered by Bin Ladenists to be a worse heresy even than Christianity or Judaism or Shiism, and its adherents, whether in Bali or Kashmir, are fit only for the edge of the sword.”

    Above is an excerpt from Christopher Hitchen’s piece http://www.slate.com/id/2127343/
    on the Bali bombings.

  • 25. O'Ya Bula Bula Bi  |  October 5th, 2005 at 10:27 pm

    “Muslim minority areas - I was only aware of Papua and Bali, I looked the rest up here”
    Actually, you have other muslim minority areas, but when they referenced North Sumatra, thats too big of place. North Sumatra has a bunch of cities, including the notorious Banda Aceh. What they are probably referring to are the Batak people in the Medan (Lake Toba) area. These guys are predominantly christians.

    “My fundamental understanding of Indonesia isn’t wrong, but my level of knowledge is far lower than yours”
    My only reason for citing having lived there was to provide more of a personal perspective as in having ‘observed’ as opposed to ‘read’.

    “Borobodur - When I visited, yes there were plenty of people there but there were no guides and we only heard about it through word of mouth, not an official Indonesian Tourist Board promotion.”
    Yeah, I am not sure why. I have been there a number of times and there have always been guides wanting to pounce on the tourists. Maybe you went there during Ramadan :) But really, Borobudur is the number 1 toursit spot in Java.

    “Promotion of Balinese/Hindu culture within Indonesia”
    The indonesian governement did a fantastic job of promoting Bali to the external world. So well that people sometimes do not realise that Bali is a part of Indonesia. This would not have been possible without Jakarta’ support. Promiting Bali within Indonesia is equally strong, if not just as any other top touris destination in the country. But the bottom line being that there were/are no general negative biases against bali, their people or culture.

    “But why did you feel it necessary to emphasise that fundamentalists only make up a minority? At no point did I suggest otherwise. British Muslims are also a overwhelmingly peaceful group, yet there are a minority who are idiots”
    When you dont suggest otherwise, generalisation carries forward. You dont need to make a disclaimer about Britain because Britain is not majority muslim. When I think of Britain, I think of the queen (well, not really). Indonesia is majority muslim (largest in the world). Coutries like Saudi, Iran, Pakistan are also muslim. And what is the first thing that comes to mind when they think Muslim? But Indonesia is very different, and therfeore warrants a disclaimer.

  • 26. O'Ya Bula Bula Bi  |  October 5th, 2005 at 10:31 pm

    Btw, take a look at this. Its a Rp20,000 bill that has since been replaced in 2004 or so. Notice anything interesting?

    http://www.guardianfx.com/information/australasia/indonesia.html

  • 27. Sunny  |  October 5th, 2005 at 11:24 pm

    They use the picture of Ganesh on a money bill? They don’t even do that in India!

  • 28. Rohin  |  October 5th, 2005 at 11:57 pm

    Why was it replaced?

  • 29. O'Ya Bula Bula Bi  |  October 6th, 2005 at 12:14 am

    Apparently to increase the security of the notes as per the official explanation:
    http://www.bi.go.id/NR/rdonlyres/6B7AC2D9-A4A6-47F7-B4C1-3811E548CD4C/2332/PBI62904_eng.pdf
    I think this note came out in 1998, and was replaced in 2004.

  • 30. Arif  |  October 6th, 2005 at 11:45 am

    Rohin, I’m sorry if I insulted you, it really wasn’t my intention, I don’t think you are an islamophobe, and sorry if it sounds that way. I tried to start my response by saying that I was the prejudiced one, and the response was trying to make sense of why my gut reaction to what you wrote was so negative.

    I don’t understand why you think an analogy with one or other bombing is more relevant to the argument. My choice of analogy was trying to see things from the other side of a fence, as I think that such analogies are more apt to give me insights, but you can use the London bombings as an analogy if it makes the point clearer for you.

    The point I was making with the analogy was how I felt that listing possible reasons for an action is unsatisfying for me as an analysis. From the reactions of other people I know that other people find your article very persuasive.

    Getting into the mind of a suicide bomber is necessarily speculative, but I would personally be more persuaded by an argument which begins with what suicide bombers say (whether in their videos or in the statements of their collaborators when on trial), then discussion of the philosophy of their mentors and social analysis of the factors which motivate people to either align with the bombers more generally. I think your three reasons are heavy on the philosophy, and I have no reason to doubt that these philosophical factors are at play. I say that my doubts on these arise from assumptions, and the only basis I find for them are that in the previous Bali bombing these political philosophical ideals did not surface in the media and that my own experience of how Muslims learn to hate (and I’m not denying we do) is so different from the Naipaul thesis.

    I think your knowledge of Indonesia is much bigger than mine, so if you can provide information, for example, on how the previous Bali bombers were actually (or claimed to be) motivated, for example, then I’m open to being persuaded by the next steps of your analysis.

    Once again, sorry if my way of writing is insulting. It is not meant to be and I’m happy to take any stylistic tips you can offer so I don’t continue to do so.

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