Thursday, November 26, 2009

A new territory falls to radical Islam

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    • Indonesia houses the world’s largest population of Muslims — more than India, more than Pakistan. As much as 90 per cent of the country’s population is made up of Muslims. Many of them still keep Hindu names. Folklores from the Mahabharat are popular. Nobody represents the middle path between traditional belief and Islam better than the people of Java. A Javanese does not even offer a firm handshake — it’s aggressive. A limp handshake is good enough.
    • Yet, all of this is changing. That all is not well first came to light with the Bali bombings, which killed over 200, and then there were the Jakarta hotel blasts. The news is that radical Islam has taken roots in the country. Osama bin Laden is a popular hero. People identify with the Chechen and Afghan wars.
    • Gentle Islam has begun to make way for the hardliner. Sharia laws have gained ground. Tolerance is down. Democratic values are questioned. Can they be any good because they are not Sharia-compliant? Onion domes of mosques can be found all over the landscape. The liberal education system faces serious threat from the madrasas. Artists are under attack. Popular music is frowned upon because it is not Islamic. Women, and even little girls, have taken to the jilbab to veil their faces.

      Deep down in their heart, the hardliners know it doesn’t fit with their traditional way of life.

    • the Islam now on display in Indonesia is of the West Asian variety — women should be stoned to death for adultery and thieves need to have their hands cut off. Jehad, or religious war, is a recurring theme.

      The world of the believer, of course, is split into two: Us and them, the believers and the non-believers. That the rest of the world — Christians, Zionists and Hindus — is out to tarnish the image of Muslims is a constant refrain.