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011004** Paul Thomas - Islam and Indonesia Danger, what Danger?

As Australia continues to be caught up in the aftermath of the September 11th plane bombings of the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon, we find the world media is focused almost exclusively on the events unfolding in the Northern Hemisphere. Yet, just a few hours flying time to our north, lies the largest Muslim population on earth, in Indonesia. The history of Islam in Indonesia stretches back over 800 years to when spice traders made their way from India to the southern Asian region. By the time the Portuguese and Dutch traders arrived, Islam had been assimilated into Indonesian culture. The diplomatic peace Australia has enjoyed with Indonesia is currently on shaky ground. With the Howard government's clumsy handling of the refugee crisis and their unqualified embrace of the so-called 'war on terrorism' some among the Muslim community in Indonesia feel as if they are under attack. The question is, is there potential for armed conflict on our soil?

Paul Thomas is the Head of the Indonesian Section of the Gippsland Campus of Monash University. Paul has taught in Italy, Singapore and Indonesia. He is also a researcher in Applied Linguistics.

** CD only


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Alternative Radio (Aust.) PO Box 780 Morwell Victoria 3848 Australia
tel. 61-3-5134-8556 mob. 61-413-597-828 inquiries@araustralia.org
www.araustralia.org