Southeast Asia — spanning from the Philippines to Indonesia and even Malaysia — is experiencing a Muslim revival that is challenging religious pluralism and long-standing secular laws and governments.
The Washington Post (Nov. 5) reports that “In a trend that is causing increasing worry about regional stability, Islamic fundamentalists are mounting aggressive campaigns for separate states and strict adherence to religious laws.” The Islamic growth is most advanced in Indonesia, where hard-line religious leaders are seeking to impose Islamic law, with some leading Muslims calling for a battle against Christians and moderate Islamic groups, such as Wahid.
In the Philippines, a low-grade Muslim separatist battle going on for decades is now mushrooming into all-o war, reports Rajiv Chandrasekaran. The trigger for the recent conflict took place when President Joseph Estrada ordered an offensive against the Muslim guerrillas, “who turned out to be better armed and more resolute than the government expected.”
In largely secular Malaysia, Islamists are pushing their agenda through the political process, “which they have done with remarkable success.”