AROUND one in 10 Indonesian Muslims support jihad and justify bomb attacks on Indonesia’s tourist island of Bali as defending the faith, a survey released today showed.
Indonesia is the world’s fourth most populous country, with 220 million people, 85 percent of whom follow Islam, giving the Asian archipelago the largest Muslim population of any nation in the world.
“Jihad that has been understood partially and practised with violence is justified by around one in 10 Indonesian Muslims,” the Indonesian Survey Institute said in a statement.
“They approved the bombings conducted … in Bali with the excuse of defending Islam,” it added, saying the percentage of such support “is very significant”.
While the vast majority of Indonesia’s Muslims are relatively moderate, there has been an increasingly vocal militant minority and political pressure for more laws that are in line with hardline Muslim teachings.
The poll surveyed a random sample of 1092 Muslim men and women.
Bombings in Bali in October 2002 blamed on the militant Southeast Asian Jemaah Islamiah network killed 202 people, mostly foreign tourists. Suicide blasts in Bali a year ago killed 20.
The survey found one in five Indonesian Muslims more generally supported the aims of Jemaah Islamiah – an armed movement backing the creation of an Islamic superstate linking Muslim Indonesia and Malaysia, and Muslim areas in the Philippines and Thailand.
In the past, it has co-operated closely with al Qaeda’s global anti-Western campaign, but in recent years many in Jemaah Islamiah have focused more on the regional struggle.
Indonesia has had a major attack against high profile Western-linked targets each year from 2002 through 2005. Authorities tied all the attacks to elements of Jemaah Islamiah.