Indonesian Muslim purists ‘don’t engage in terror’

JAKARTA – Fundamentalist Indonesian Muslims are unlikely to engage in terror acts, with most finding attacks such as last week’s explosion at the Australian Embassy abhorrent, a report said yesterday.

Instead, religion plays just a small part in the rise of terror in Indonesia, said the report from the Brussels-based International Crisis Group (ICG).

The more puritan Indonesian Muslims are, the less they will be drawn to violence, it said.

The ICG said Indonesia’s Muslim puritans have suffered from bad press after the Bali blast, the attack on the JW Marriott Hotel last year and the Australian Embassy attack in Jakarta last week.

All three incidents have been blamed on the militant Jemaah Islamiah (JI) group.

In Indonesia, the world’s largest Muslim-populated nation, where a tolerant strain of the religion is practised, fundamentalist religious views are often mistakenly viewed as being synonymous with terror, the report said.

But Islamic puritanism, or salafism, ‘is not the source of the problem’ of terrorism, which is ‘one part religion, three parts politics’, it said.

The puritan movement in Indonesia ‘may come across as intolerant and reactionary, but for the most part, it is not prone to terrorism, in part because it is so inwardly focused on faith’.

It also said anti-US sentiments fuelled by the invasion of Iraq did not appear to be turning more Muslim purists into militants.

The ICG report concluded that most Indonesian salafis find groups such as JI ‘anathema’, and may help dissuade terrorists.

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The Straits Times

Religion News Blog posted this on Tuesday September 14, 2004.
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