Indonesia is the world’s largest Muslim nation and it has traditionally had the reputation of being moderate in its approach to religion and it allows other religions to practice their faith in peace. However, like most nations, Indonesia also has radical relgious elements who do not recognize the nation’s historical commitment to diversity. Last week, members of radical Muslim groups, waving sticks, charged at members of the Ahmadiyah sect which claims to be Muslim but refuses to recognize Mohammad as the last Prophet. Dozens of people were injured during the attack. Indonesian President Suslio Bambang Yudhoyono sharply criticized the militants and stated bluntly, “the violence has sullied our nation’s reputation.”
Unfortunately, the president needs support from Muslim militants in parliament and he may have limited power to completely curtail their activities. They have been noted for attacking secular groups and even nightclubs. It is encouraging the president has a strong commitment to peaceful coexistence of all groups.