The World Today for June 05, 2018
NEED TO KNOW
‘A Truly Horrible Precedent’
Militants in the Islamic State are celebrating their first Ramadan since their terror organization lost control of most of the territory they seized in Iraq and Syria in recent years.
It’s not a coincidence that the group’s chapters in Indonesia have stepped up their efforts, wrote Greg Barton, a professor of global Islamic politics at Australia’s Deakin University, in the Conversation.
Attacks throughout the archipelago that is home to the world’s largest Muslim population killed at least 26 and injured dozens more in mid-May.
The attacks included bombings at three churches in Surabaya, which the police said were carried out by a “well-liked” couple who used their own four children as suicide bombers on motorcycles. The kids were ages nine to 18.
“Indonesia may have set a truly horrible precedent,” Sidney Jones, director of the Jakarta-based Institute for Policy Analysis of Conflict, told the South China Morning Post. “It’s a very significant development. It hasn’t happened before in Indonesia or elsewhere that I know of where whole families were involved as suicide bombers.”
Others were less analytical.
“As a parent, I wanted to understand what had compelled this family to erase itself from the earth,” wrote New York Times reporter Hannah Beech. “Every explanation seemed inadequate.”
It was only one of three attacks involving families in May, and almost every day last month saw an attack, an attempted attack or an operation to prevent an attack, wrote Jones in an opinion piece in the New York Times.
But, unlike Syria and Iraq, where civil war and weak governments failed to address the Islamic State’s rise before the group controlled vast tracts of territory and major cities, Indonesia is moving quickly to address the threat.
After the attacks, Indonesian lawmakers passed a controversial anti-terror law that expands the military’s role in internal security, allows authorities to detain suspects for 21 days without charge and for an additional 200 days before a trial, Al Jazeera reported. Anyone caught trafficking in weapons for terrorists faces the death penalty.
But the police and military have their work cut out for them.
Around 1,000 Indonesians traveled to the Middle East to fight for the Islamic State between 2014 and this year. Around 500 have returned. Islamic State leaders have urged those and others to join the jihad against the Indonesian government, non-Muslims and other targets, the BBC said, adding that around 30 terror cells have likely set up shop in the country.
It’s not clear if a crackdown will change the hearts and minds of those jihadists.
Terror detainees linked to the Islamic State rioted in an Indonesian prison in early May and kept security forces at bay for two days before authorities overpowered the inmates, for example.
Critics of the new anti-terror law abound. But even critics agree that something must be done to counter a dark – and spreading – new threat.
WANT TO KNOW
Mother Knows Best
German Chancellor Angela Merkel offered her own prescription for the eurozone, following broad reform proposals from French President Emmanuel Macron.
While Macron made bold calls last year for a European military force that would complement NATO, a “genuine European asylum office” for a unified migration policy and common taxes, Merkel’s ideas are more specific and practical, showing that her tenure as the de facto leader of Europe may not yet be over, Bloomberg opined.
In an interview with the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung, Merkel agreed that a European Monetary Fund is needed to reduce Europe’s dependency on the International Monetary Fund. But she specified it should be run by the member states, not the European Commission. On a common investment budget to boost digitalization and technology, she set a ceiling “in the low double-digits of billions,” rejecting Macron’s vision of a massive scheme funded by common taxes. And while she backed the French leader’s ideas for a common military force, she said Germany wouldn’t provide any additional funding for it.
Enough Is Enough
Jordan’s Prime Minister Hani al-Mulki resigned, following four nights of anti-government protests in Amman and other cities sparked by anger over austerity measures adopted to pull the country out of economic crisis.
Protesters took to the streets late Sunday in response to a new plan that would require citizens earning as little as $11,000 a year to pay income tax – the latest in a string of austerity measures that have seen prices rise for everything from bread to electricity.
“They keep adding more taxes while we have no services,” NPR quoted Hanadi Dweik, a children’s tutor and former head of administration at a bank, as saying.
“We don’t even have a decent transportation system… It’s enough. Enough is enough.”
Jordan hosts more than a million Syrian refugees and former donors Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have cut off aid to the kingdom – one of the few in the Middle East with no oil riches.
DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO
The Democratic Republic of Congo has shuttered Africa’s oldest national park until 2019 after the death of a ranger and the abduction of two British tourists by local rebels this year.
Virunga National Park Director Emmanuel de Merode said in a statement Monday that the world-famous home to mountain gorillas will remain closed until the end of the year to allow a thorough review of security precautions, the Guardian reported. The park will also beef up its force of 700 rangers.
Tourist activities in Virunga had been temporarily suspended after a May incident in which militants killed one ranger, wounded another and abducted two British tourists. At least 12 rangers have been killed in such incidents in the last 10 months, and more than 180 rangers have been killed in Virunga over the last 20 years.
Meanwhile, the DRC faces the specter of broader violence, due to political instability stemming from President Joseph Kabila’s refusal to step down in 2016 – possibly gearing up for an unconstitutional bid at a third term in elections slated for December.
Islamic Finance vs. Bitcoin
For Muslims the world over, Ramadan isn’t just a period of piety and fasting, but a chance to be charitable as well.
In order to widen its breadth of possible philanthropists during the Islamic holy month, one mosque in East London is now accepting donations in bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, Reuters reported.
“For the donor, it’s just the click of a button to transfer to an account provided by the charity,” blockchain consultant Lukasz Musial, who’s assisting the Shacklewell Lane Mosque with the technology, told Reuters. “From the mosque’s perspective, it opens a new stream of donations coming from all over the world.”
And it’s proving to be an effective method, with the mosque saying it’s on track to double its donations this year to more than $13,300.
Egypt’s Grand Mufti, the nation’s top Sunni Muslim official, declared the use of bitcoin this year incompatible with Islamic law. Even so, Shacklewell imam Abdalla Adeyemi defended his mosque’s practice.
“Bitcoin is like any other currency,” he told Reuters.