Source: The Economist
IS INDONESIA, the most populous Muslim-majority country, undergoing creeping Islamisation? It is not hard to assemble enough recent evidence to give Western Islamophobes goosebumps. In late December a mob attacked and burned a prayer house in West Java belonging to Ahmadiyah, a sect deemed heretical by some mainstream Islamic scholars. Earlier in the month the country's Christian leaders complained that Muslim radicals, helped by local officials, had carried out a string of attacks on churches. Ten Muslim militants were jailed for attacks on Christians on Sulawesi island, including the beheading of three schoolgirls. In late November the religious-affairs ministry barred a liberal Egyptian scholar, Nasr Hamid Abu Zayd (who calls the Koran a “cultural product”), from public speaking in Indonesia.
Behind many recent incidents is a vigilante group, the Islam Defenders' Front (FPI), which in September assaulted bars, cafÃ©s and hotels in Bogor, near Jakarta, accusing them of violating Ramadan. Another rising radical force is the Indonesian chapter of Hizb-ut-Tahrir, which wants a caliphate to rule the whole Muslim world. Last August it gathered perhaps 90,000 supporters in a Jakarta stadium. Its leaders condemned democracy on the basis that sovereignty lies in God's hands, not the people's. A not dissimilar attack on pluralism was made in a hardline fatwa issued in 2005 by the Indonesian Ulemas Council (MUI). This same semi-official body recently demanded the banning of the liberal Egyptian scholar.