The recent bombing in Bali is terribly unsettling, coming as it does a few months before my departure for Malaysia. As horrific as it is, though, it doesn’t change my plans, and I don’t think it will be a “first step” on the road to something more terrible, God willing. Eric Boehlert of Salon.com has an interview with “Robert Hefner, a Boston University professor, Indonesia expert and author of “Civil Islam.”” Boehlert has reported well on Islam in the past; his article on CAIR in particular was very good. The interview with Prof. Hefner is worth reading; he argues that “in terms of moral authority for these groups [radicals] to sell their arguments to a small fringe of the Muslim community, [the bombing] has been a serious setback.”
Anyone looking for English-language news out of Indonesia about Bali should have a look at Joe Friend’s weblog, so many islands, so little time, direct to you from Bandung.
Also in the news, though regrettably not (yet?) online, is an article by Alex Alexiev in the 10/28 issue of the National Review. “The End of an Alliance” lays out very clearly the role of the Saudi government in spreading wahhabi heresy worldwide, and the tremendous destructive effect that has had. Unlike others who have picked up on the Saudi connection, he doesn’t conclude that Islam is the enemy, but rather that the US has to more effectively engage and support traditional Islamic institutions to counter Saudi influence. And of course turn off the spigot of money flowing out around the world. Alexiev figures the cash flow at $4 billion a year, in the excerpt available here.