“FOR decades, South-East Asia has had two lucky bulwarks against militant Islam: the peaceful, tolerant form of their faith practised by most South-East Asian Muslims; and the relative incompetence of local jihadists. But South-East Asia’s tradition of syncretic Islam has been threatened by stricter forms imported from the Middle East, seen as more modern and correct. Violent jihadism seems to be following the same pattern, if the bloody violence in central Jakarta, Indonesia’s capital, on January 14th, is anything to go by………… In Malaysia, however, the government itself has thoroughly politicised Islam, leaving little room for dissent from its harshest rules. A study last year found more than 70% of Malaysia’s ethnic-Malay, Muslim, majority support hudud laws such as stoning for adultery…………….”
Southeast Asia has been largely under the radar as far as Wahhabism and Jihadi terrorism is concerned. Saudi madrassas (meaning schools but here ones that stress Wahhabi ideology, manned by Saudi clerics-teachers) have been around for a couple of decades, and a new crop of young terrorists are coming of age.
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum