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Militant Islam in Indonesia

Reader comment on item: Militant Islam Is Put In Class With Communism, Fascism

Submitted by Eddy Suwondo (Indonesia), Aug 27, 2002 at 03:24

Dear Daniel Pipes,

I have followed your articles in your website for the past three years. It's always interesting to follow your reasoning. I have always been eager to respond to your articles if I had more time. But I am retired right now so that I can concentrate more on what you are saying in all your articles.

I would like to make a few remarks about your recent interview with Investor's Business Daily (Aug 26, 2002).

Toward the end of the interview you were saying, I quote here, "the faith of Islam is not a threat", ant then you add "Unfortunately the faith of Islam can be a way of becoming a supporter of militant Islam". Well , this is certainly contradictory but nevertheless true. To me, and I like to emphasize this point, that the faith of Islam is a threat by way of your second premise and what you were also saying before in the middle of the interview concerning the debate within the Muslim community.

Here is my explanation, in Islam the word "Ummah" (Ummat in Indonesian or give it a better explanatory word such as the Collective) has a very forceful meaning. It means a solidarity that goes beyond rational behaviour, a solidarity that calls for supporting your brotherhood even if he is wrong. This kind of solidarity is even worse in a backward country like Indonesia where 86% of the population is Moslem and half of them are "illiterate".

In another paragraph you were also saying that Islam itself is not the problem but the interpretation is. That is exactly the problem, "INTERPRETATION": literally everybody can do Quranic interpretation, and combined with an authoritarian government this is doubly dangerous. My country, for example, is a Nation of Belief. To make it a Critically Thinking people or nation needs time and education, lots of education. Do we have the time or are we willing to wait that long? I certainly agree with you that militant Islam is on the increase, even in a country with 86% Moslem population. I think we have not seen the peak yet.

One last item, I don't quite agree with you that the growth of militant Islam has no relation to poverty. In a western country this may be true, but in a country where poverty reigns and corruption is rampant, militant Islam is certainly very much related, and especially where the police and armed forces support them morally.

Here, in short, is my comment of your article and I hope that you can spend some time to study the Islamic problem in my country, Indonesia. With 86% of the population Moslem, and the addition of corruption, poverty, illiteracy, with the army not quite sure where to stand, this country should be considered a powder keg.

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