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Global Islamism Monitor - No. 47

Edited by Ilan Berman and Diana Biya
November 27, 2017


A STEP BACKWARD IN JAKARTA
Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim state, has long served as a moderate counterpoint to the extreme religious currents that have pervaded the rest of the Muslim world. But now, fundamentalist Islam is said to be growing stronger throughout the far-flung South Asian nation, exemplified by more stringent mores that "criminalize lifestyles and ideas that run counter to Shariah... such as drinking, homosexuality and communism." This trend, in turn, is giving new vigor to groups like the Islamic Defenders Front, or FPI - a hardline political party that is advocating for the imposition of Islamic law throughout the country. But, scholars say, the trend is broader, and more pervasive. "The Indonesian Muslim community is disappointed with [president] Joko Widodo's government today, believing it is moving away from the interests of Islam," says Al Chaidar of the University of Malikussaleh, and that trend is spurring an "Islamic revival." (Tokyo
Nikkei, October 19, 2017)

BRACING FOR ISLAMISM IN THE CARIBBEAN...

The countries of the Caribbean are bracing for a potential wave of terror attacks during this year's holiday season amid the decline of the Islamic State terrorist group in Iraq and Syria. In all, regional authorities estimate that more than 200 people from the Caribbean have joined the ranks of the Islamic State in the Middle East to date. The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) is now working to prevent the return of these fighters from the Middle East, an eventuality that regional officials admit "is not a matter of yes but when."

A particular area of concern are the islands of Trinidad & Tobago. "Per capita, Trinidad has the greatest number of foreign fighters from the Western Hemisphere who have joined the Islamic State," notes former U.S. Ambassador John Estrada. "Trinidadians do very well with ISIL. They are high up in the ranks, they are very respected and they are English-speaking. ISIL have used them for propaganda to spread their message through the Caribbean. The Islamic State uses them as propaganda to spread their message in the Caribbean." (London
Express, October 25, 2017)

...AND TIGHTENING UP IN BULGARIA

Politicians in Bulgaria are contemplating new restrictions on the financing and teaching of the Muslim faith as part of an effort to insulate the country from the spread of radical ideas. According to the country's deputy prime minister, Krasimir Karakachanov, Bulgaria needs to "tighten rules on foreign financing for religious communities and restrict visits by foreign clerics" in order to prevent the further spread of radical Islam among the country's comparatively large Muslim community, which makes up some 12 percent of its overall population of 7.1 million. "It turns out that problems we see in a number of European countries already exist in Bulgaria," Karakachanov has told reporters. According to him, those problems require a reversal of the "extremely liberal" laws that currently exist in the country - laws that have facilitated the spread of "non-traditional" Islam within Bulgaria's borders. (Sofia
Novinite, October 20, 2017)

THAILAND'S TURMOIL PROVIDES INROADS FOR FOREIGN JIHADISTS

For decades, Thailand has been plagued by a long-running insurgency in its predominantly Muslim southern territories, where separatist elements have fought to establish an Islamic state. But the territory could soon become a front for international jihad, a new study has noted. The report, issued by the International Crisis Group, stresses that while there is currently "no evidence of jihadists making inroads among the separatist fronts" in Thailand's south, the conflict provides “conditions favorable for jihadist expansion: a Sunni minority that constitutes a majority in the conflict zone; a Muslim insurgency with a narrative of dispossession at the hands of non-Muslim colonizers; and a protracted conflict with frequent repression and violence by Thai authorities." "Thai officials, analysts, and even some in the militant movement," the study notes, "have expressed concerns about prospects for jihadist influence." (Tokyo
The Diplomat
, November 20, 2017)


Related Categories: Europe; Southeast Asia; South Asia; Countering Islamic Extremism Project

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