RealNews

Once Mild, Islam Looks Harsher in Indonesia

The moderate strand of Islam that absorbed touches of Buddhism and Hinduism, and some mysticism, along its journey over the centuries here, is being eroded, some fear at a rapid pace. The battle for the soul of Islam in Indonesia is under way. Some have begun to ask whether the Islamists who want to create a caliphate across the Muslim areas of Southeast Asia will at the very least eventually succeed in Indonesia. A group of American experts, headed by a former United States ambassador to Syria, Edward P. Djerejian, is scheduled to arrive here in coming weeks as part of a worldwide look at Islam. Eventually, they will report to the Bush administration on how to mold the American message to the Muslim world. They are likely to find some of the same underlying themes in Indonesia as in the Middle East, where the group has begun its work. Full Story

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