Reuters blog archive
Indonesian militants are using parcel bombs and targeting minorities to try to push an Islamist agenda on the government and they could launch further small attacks, the country's anti-terror agency chief told Reuters. Militant attacks and incidents of religious intolerance have risen in recent weeks, with mobs lynching three followers of a minority Islamic sect and torching two churches on Java island. Parcel bombs have been sent to people involved in promoting pluralism and counter-terrorism in Jakarta.
The head of the National Counter-Terrorism Agency, Ansyaad Mbai, said Islamic organisations that had not previously been involved in acts of terror were joining a militant network in Indonesia because of a convergence on certain issues.
"Terrorism is politics. The motive is politics, and clearly the militant network's aim is to affect political policy," Mbai said in an interview at his barricaded office in a former colonial building in central Jakarta.
A small explosion has hit the Jakarta office of the Liberal Islamic Network, an Indonesian group that has defended the rights of minority Islamic Ahmadi sect, a witness said. The explosion on Tuesday, which injured three people, comes a month after a mob beat to death three followers of the Ahmadi sect, considered heretical by mainstream Muslims.
Hundreds of Muslim radicals set two churches ablaze and attacked a court in Indonesia's central Java on Tuesday, calling for harsh punishment for a Christian on trial for blasphemy, police said.
(Photo: Two Indonesian women -- the one on the left wearing a Muslim headscarf -- pose for a photo in front of a Christmas tree in a shopping mall in Jakarta December 23, 2010/Dadang Tri)
Opulent Christmas decorations at shopping malls in Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim nation, could incite anger among non-Christians, the country's highest Islamic authority said on Thursday. Although 90 percent of the country's 240 million people are Muslim, the capital's myriad glitzy malls have been decorated with Christmas lights and bunting -- including faux snow, Santas and nativity scenes.
"Christmas describes a certain religion, and if the religion advertises it too overtly -- even though they have only a small number of followers -- it will cause jealousy and anger from other groups," said Ma'ruf Amin, of Indonesia's Ulema Council.
U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama donned a headscarf on a visit to an mosque in Indonesia on Wednesday, not a requirement for a non-Muslim but a sign of the Obamas' efforts to show respect for the Islamic world.
Wearing a beige headscarf adorned with gold beads and a flowing chartreuse trouser suit, she toured Jakarta's Istiqlal Mosque, Southeast Asia's largest, while on a short state visit to the world's most populous Muslim country.
(Photo: A protest against U.S. President Barack Obama in Jakarta November 9, 2010/Dadang Tri)
President Barack Obama's pledge on Wednesday in Jakarta to strive for better relations with the Muslim world drew skepticism in Cairo, where last year he called for a new beginning in the Middle East after years of mistrust.
Seventeen months after Obama's Cairo University speech, al Qaeda is still threatening the West, peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians remain stalled over the issue of West Bank settlements and U.S. troops remain in Iraq and Afghanistan.
When U.S. President Barack Obama first addressed the Muslim world in its traditional heartland last year, his speech was laden with references to the past, to Islam and to the tensions plaguing the Middle East. Updating his speech on Wednesday on the far eastern fringe of that world, his upbeat remarks about Indonesia's democracy, development and diversity spelled hope for the future. (Photo: President Obama greets the audience after his speech in Jakarta November 10, 2010/Jason Reed)
But they were also veiled reference to autocratic Muslim countries. He held up Indonesia as an example for others to emulate, praising the progress it has made from dictatorship to a vibrant democracy tolerant of other religions.
Word clouds are graphic games that sometimes tell more than a plain text. Look at the results below for U.S. President Barack Obama's "speech to the Muslim world" today in Jakarta and his first such address in Cairo last year. I've analysed the two in a report here, but word clouds tell the story a different way. (Photo: President Barack Obama in Jakarta, 10 Nov 2010/Barbara Walton)
Judging by the frequency of the words, today's speech was much more a speech about Indonesia than anything else. The message to the greater Muslim world -- here's what the world's largest Muslim country can do! -- only comes through between the lines. But it was clear enough when Obama strung these words into sentences.
(Photo: Istiqlal Mosque in Jakarta, August 18, 2003/Supri)
President Barack Obama will visit Indonesia's largest mosque and make a major outdoor speech directed at the global Muslim community when he visits Indonesia next month, the White House said on Thursday.
Obama leaves on November 5 on a 10-day trip to India, Indonesia, South Korea and Japan. On November 10 in Jakarta, Obama will visit the Istiqlal Mosque, and then make his speech from another, outdoor location, where there could be a large crowd.
(Photo: Buddha Bar Restaurant in Jakarta, December 4, 2008/Beawiharta)
The English language newspaper Jakarta Globe reported that Central Jakarta District Court on Wednesday ordered the owners of the bar, Nireta Vista Creative, to close down immediately.