After Friday bombings of two luxury hotels in Jakarta, the Marriott and the Ritz-Carlton, which caused 9 dead and 50 wounded, the week-end was peaceful. I had just read a tweet about Los Angeles Four Seasons hotel being evacuated, when I heard alarms going off and police cars arriving in front of the Four Seasons Hotel in Jakarta, which I can see from my apartment. Apparently it was a false alarm because everything was soon quiet again.
People who live here easily forget that this country has been the target of various attacks (Bali, Marriott, Australian Embassy, etc.) and that it was inevitable that someone sometimes would attempt again to undermine this Muslim country’s road to a multiethnic and multifaith democratic society based on the five principles of Pancasila, the Indonesian state philosophical foundation. Other countries of the Region have the same problems, although the Muslim minorities of south Thailand and Philippines are fighting more for territorial gains than for a caliphate. Furthermore, South East Asian countries anti-terrorism cooperation needs much more work although it must be admitted that the logistics are appallingly difficult.
Nobody (unless serving a particular agenda that we all know too well) will ever accuse terrorists of being intelligent and in fact, their attempts in Indonesia are as hopeless as they are. Indonesia is a country where Islam lives together (and sometimes fuses) with animism, Buddhism, Christianity; where religion is more a means of social cohesion and tradition than blind belief; where some people will look surprised (and would not know what to answer) if you asked them whether they are Sunni or Shia’; where young educated people strive to be modern.
Indonesia was recently praised for having made advances in the fight against terrorism by adopting re-education techniques and demonstrating some leniency towards those who were (and now are again) suspected to be the masterminds or at least of giving their blessing and ideological inspiration to the terrorists. While this approach might work in Saudi Arabia, where the state, through an ancient covenant between the clergy and the “Royal” family reminiscent of Egypt’s pharaohs times, controls everything (including the content of Friday sermons), it is doubtful that a young democratic state like Indonesia can afford to implement it.
It is to be hoped that, having successfully won the presidential elections with ample margin, SBY will stop paying lip service to the more extreme Islamic parties in Indonesia and avoid half measures and compromises in this fight, adopting a more robust and exemplar policy against those who want to destroy his beautiful country.