Indonesia a Microcosm of Global Conflict Between Moderate and Extremist Islam

May 9, 2005

Source: The Boston Globe

On May 9, 2005 The Boston Globe reported, "The men were marked as outsiders and Islamic fundamentalists by their untrimmed beards and long, flowing robes. They arrived, one or two at a time, in the summer of 2002, preaching, trading, selling rolls and sandwiches in this quiet village on the working-class side of Bali, where Muslims coexist placidly with Hindus, Buddhists, and animists. The residents of Pemogon had no clue that this was an organized infiltration, and they welcomed the newcomers to walk the shady, cobbled streets, sit along the canals, and pray in the modest stone-and-wood mosques. But mixing in was not what the strangers had in mind. That October, devastating car bombs exploded in the middle of a strip of nightclubs in nearby Kuta, the center of Bali's resort complex, killing 202 people. Most of the victims were foreign tourists, but 35 were Indonesians, many of them from Pemogon, where driving taxis to and from the resorts is a common occupation. Soon afterward, investigators came to Pemogon looking for suspects, villagers say, but by then the strangers had vanished. Suddenly, a community that has long cherished tolerance, hospitality, and moderation as the hallmarks of Islam was sucked into the global struggle between the religion's moderates and extremists, a struggle that will determine the future of a strategically important arc of Islamic nations extending from Morocco to Indonesia."