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The Daily Rhino
Saturday, October 01, 2005

Why Bali will continue to be a target

TODAY the small Indonesian island of Bali was rocked by bomb attacks on two popular tourist areas, killing at least 22. BBC Coverage.

Bali is one of the most beautiful places I have visited. Nowadays, post-Jason Donovan and Ricky Martin, it’s known for its tourist trade as much as it is for its natural wonders. One can only hope that it doesn’t develop a new, darker claim to fame. However I fear that Bali may become one of the most popular targets for Islamist terrorists.

For those who believe in the supremacy of their warped Islamic beliefs, Bali represents a triple-whammy. Three reasons to target the jewel in Indonesia’s crown.

Indonesia is frequently referred to as the world’s most populous Islamic nation, people forget that it is just a truly immense country. Over 13,000 islands make up the vast archipelago, stretching more than 5000km across. The country has a tumultuous recent past and I honestly think that no country has seen quite so much change in the last 50 years. It lives in the shadow of its more successful neighbours, the Asian Tigers of Malaysia, Thailand and Singapore, which sometimes overshadows the strides forward that Indonesia has taken, like free elections being introduced seven years ago.

However, Indonesia is afflicted by several serious diseases. A nasty Asian strain of corruption, armed separatists in Aceh and Irian Jaya and a chronic case of terrorism.

V.S. Naipaul’s excellent book, Beyond Belief, examines how Indonesia has been affected by the recent and widespread embrace of Islam. With this, unfortunately came a firebrand fundamentalist streak, such that Indonesia has been described as ‘Al Qaeda’s next natural home.’

So why has Bali been hit by a series of attacks?

Reason 1
Indonesia’s census states almost 90% of Indonesia is Muslim. However in a few areas, namely Bali, Papua, East Nusa Tenggara and some areas hit by the tsunami in northern Sumatra, Muslims form a minority. You may not have heard of any on that list – with the exception of Bali. Militant Muslims bent upon increasing that 90% up to 100 do not like any of those areas, but Bali stands out. Papua and Aceh have violent armed militia patrolling their territories and Eastern Nusa Tenggara is a massively under-developed backwater. Bali, in contrast, produces vast sums of money and is a peaceful place, with no armed guerrillas to offer resistance to terrorists. It’s an easy target.

Bali 2002

Reason 2
India and Indonesia have intertwined histories. Before Islam came to Indonesia via India, the country was Hindu and Buddhist, two Indian religions. The Arab-centric ideologies supported by Islamist terrorists despise India and it despise Hinduism. Osama bin Laden himself has identified India as an enemy of the caliphate and Al Qaeda. With the Arabisation of Indonesia, Indian influences have been purged from the vast majority of the country. The largest Buddhist monument in the world and a contender for 8th wonder of the world, Borobodur, is left woefully under-maintained and under-advertised, as it is a Buddhist stupa in the heart of an Islamic Java.

Despite all attempts to erase India from Indonesia, Bali remained unchanged. Over 90% of the 1.81% of Indonesians who are Hindu reside in Bali. The very culture that attracts tourists in droves is the culture that the rest of the country has rejected – such as traditional Balinese dancing, which is rooted in Hindu mythology. Bali is a slice of ancient Indonesia. Bali is a Hindu infidel of an island. Worse still, Balinese Hindus are leading what is called the
Hindu Revival. Read more about Hinduism in Bali and Indonesia.

Reason 3
The last reason Indonesian terrorists hate Bali is that it is a resounding success story. Jealousy is central to much of the moaning done by radical clerics and they hate the fact that Bali is thriving whilst much of Indonesia has criminal levels of poverty. And perhaps the main reason Bali is targeted at all is the cause of Bali’s wealth – Western tourists.

I say Western, but what I really mean is Australian. Australians have been enjoying the food, drink, sun and sand of Bali for decades. Now if you live on Bondi beach and still travel 1000s of miles for a holiday, it must be something special. Brits are also quite keen on Bali’s resorts. Australia and Britain – more enemies of fundamentalist Islam. Two coalition members, two aggressors against Islam, two friends of Zionist America and one more reason why a bomb in Bali makes headlines around the world, not just in the Indonesian press.

Balinese children

My heart is filled with sorrow when I think about the inevitable evil that will be unleashed on little Bali. Tourism is how it earns its keep and 3 years on from the 2002 attacks, the trade had just returned to normal, until today. It hasn’t invaded Iraq or given aid to Israel, yet as long as Bali is a peaceful island, populated by Hindus and enjoyed by white tourists, the diamond on Indonesia’s necklace is under constant threat from the new Islamist fascists.

This was first a post on Pickled Politics, take a look at the comments here.


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