This week Australians felt closer to terrorism than we have since the Bali bombings in 2002. It was devastating to watch a hostage situation unfolding in the middle of Sydney city and to lose two innocent people in the conclusion. The Muslim community immediately felt the aspersions of extremism and reacted promptly in the glare of the media to distance themselves from the madman who carried out the attack, and his poisonous IS ideologies.
Australian Muslim leaders were unified and vocal in rejecting Man Monis and his actions, and some of the first to gather in grief at the scene. It was with warmth and solidarity that people took up #illridewithyou to assure the Muslim community that they were safe and supported as the news of Islamic extremism cast its long shadow over normal, rights respecting Muslims. Indonesia also relayed the display of tolerance and #illridewithyou was widely reported in the Indonesia media.
Indonesia too, is on the alert for an act of terrorism. To Indonesia, the threat of terrorism is always on the horizon. Indonesia has now become the biggest supplier of IS fodder; 514 Indonesians have gone to Syria and Iraq to participate in the wars compared with around 150 Australians. Malaysia has just deported 12 Indonesians who were headed to Syria to fight for IS.This represents an enormous challenge and need for constant supervision to find and paralyze training camps. Poso in Sulawesi is currently being used as a training ground for IS bound fighters who are using local targets as bomb practice.
Unlike Australia, where Christmas is a pretty relaxed affair and many police are on holidays, Indonesian police are preparing 'Operation Candle' to safeguard celebrations and try to keep a lid on any religiously motivated violence. They will deploy almost 146,000 police. But it isn't all pitchforks and villagers, tinsel is certainly not taboo in Indonesia. Christmas is welcome in many areas and Jakarta malls rival any Australian attempts to create a 'Christmas atmosphere'. Like most things Indonesian, Christmas is also a contradiction.
On behalf of the Indonesia Institute, selamat hari Natal dan tetap aman sepanjang musim meriah.
New posts this week:
Message from the President of the Indonesia Institute, Ross B Taylor AM.
"Christmas of contrasts in Indonesia," by Catriona Croft-Cusworth, December 2014.
"Indonesian military kill more civilians in Papua: history of failed military containment does not bode well for Jokowi," by Warren Doull, December 2014.
"Not a moment too soon: New Columbo Plan put to use for in-country study in Indonesia," by Lauren Gumbs, December 2014.
"The cost of getting out of trouble overseas," by Ross B Taylor, December 2014.
Freedom of speech in Indonesia threatened by arbitrary blasphemy law: The BBC takes up the report that Jakarta Post's editor, Meidyatama Suryodiningrat, is under investigation as a suspect in a 'blasphemy' case.
Rhonda and Ketut popularise and reflect Australia and Indonesia's relationship.
The wet season is beginning and a fatal landslide has taken the lives of 80 in Banjarnegara Jawa Tengah.
Such natural disasters create vast numbers of Internally Displaced Persons as well as security concerns for Indonesia.
What do Poso, Aceh and Papua conflicts have in common?
Operasi Lilin akan memastikan perayaan natal berjalan tertib, lancar, dan aman.