Carnage in Bali

    To many Westerners, the word "Bali" is synonymous with "paradise." The combination of climate, culture, architecture, and friendly locals makes the island and its beaches a favorite for tourists from all over the world. That's why the recent terrorist attack that killed nearly two hundred people came as a particularly nasty shock. The atrocity has world leaders vowing to crack down on radical Islam within Indonesia -- to which Christians can only reply: What took you so long? The problem may be that since September 11, Western leaders have continually said that Islam is a peace-loving religion highjacked by the highjackers. The problem isn't Islamic beliefs, they say -- all roads lead to heaven; all religions are alike. I understand why government leaders say this -- we don't want a war with the Muslim world, much of which is moderate -- and we certainly don't want to cause discrimination against Muslims living in the United States. But as I've frequently said on BreakPoint, we must not kid ourselves either. We had better realize that there are lots of Muslims who take the Qur'án very seriously. And there are many Islamists who are dedicated to the destruction of the West. We have to understand this so that we'll recognize that just cleaning up al-Qaeda will not solve our problems. Militant Islam is a dangerous movement and must be reckoned with as such around the world. The tragedy in Bali has at least awakened the world to the real dangers we must deal with. Western governments are now demanding a crackdown on these groups in Indonesia. Australian Prime Minister John Howard demanded "a maximum effort on the part of the Indonesian government" in its fight against terrorism. And the United States has called on Indonesia's president to crack down and intensify her government's efforts. If you want evidence of Islamic extremism, just ask any Indonesian Christian. For nearly three decades, Indonesia's Christians have endured one outrage after another at the hands of their Muslim neighbors. In 1975, Indonesia invaded and annexed East Timor, killing hundreds of thousands of East Timorese Christians. Twenty years later, as East Timor gained its independence, the government again did nothing as more Christians were slaughtered. In the mid-nineties, Indonesia's Christian Chinese were made the scapegoat for the country's economic woes. Again, the government stood by as Christian businesses, homes, and churches were looted and burned. And in the last few years, an Islamic militia, the Laksar Jihad, has declared war on Christians living on the islands of Sulawesi and the Moluccas. The militia, which includes members from Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Albania, and Bosnia, has attacked Christian villages and forced Christians to either convert to Islam or be beheaded. And Indonesia's government has been joined in its silence by Western governments -- until, that is, the victims were Western tourists. While Christians should applaud the new resolve to deal with Islamic extremism in Indonesia, we can't stop there. Islamic extremism is indivisible; the people killing tourists and the people killing Christians are proceeding from the same worldview -- a worldview threatening to all of us. That's why overlooking the true nature of Islam is not only wrong, it's folly -- the kind of folly that can turn any paradise into hell on earth. For further information: Paul Marshall and Lela Gilbert, Their Blood Cries Out (Word Books, 1997). Glenn Kessler and Ellen Nakashima, "Group to Be Added to Terror List," Washington Post, 22 October 2002. Alan Sipress and Ellen Nakashima, "187 Killed in Blast at Indonesian Nightclub," Washington Post, 13 October 2002. Raymond Bonner, "Bombing in Bali Seen as Opening New Front in Fight on Terror," New York Times, 14 October 2002 (free registration required). Timothy George, Is the Father of Jesus the God of Muhammad? (Zondervan, 2002). You can also purchase an audiocassette of Dr. George's speech on the same topic. See BreakPoint's list of organizations fighting for religious liberty.


Chuck Colson


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