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West uses religion, race to destabilize Indonesia, Nigeria and Sudan

M.A. Shaikh

Population: 197,600,00
Area(sq km): 1,904,569 (735, 358 sq miles)
Population: 88,514,501 (Census results Nov 1991)
Area (sq km): 923,768 (356,669 sq miles)
Population: 24,940,683 (Census results June 15, 1993
Area (sq km): 2, 505, 813 (967, 500 sq miles).

What do Indonesia, Nigeria and Sudan have in common? They are huge countries, in terms of area and population, which are overwhelmingly Muslim but with Christian minorities and ethnic diversity that the west uses to destabilize these potentially rich and powerful States. And acting as Trojan horses in all three, are, in addition to discredited secular politicians and military bigwigs, recipients of such dubious international awards as the Nobel Peace Prize.

Indonesia, with a population of nearly 200 million is the largest Muslim country and the fourth most populous in the world (after China, India and the US); Nigeria’s almost 90 million strong population is the largest in Africa; and Sudan, though with a much smaller population (25 million) has the African continent’s biggest land mass. With huge territories (see box above), mineral as well as oil deposits, and strong agricultural potential, all three have a chance of prospering in the future if the west’s ruinous intervention in their affairs is ended.

At present, each one of them is in the grip of serious unrest, triggered or aggravated by external intervention, which has the potential of destroying national and territorial integrity. The turmoil ranges from a wave of bombings (Nigeria) through religious and ethnic riots (Indonesia) to a long-standing civil war, now joined by three of Sudan’s neighbours and financed by the US.

In the short term, Sudan faces the trickiest situation because of the decision of Eritrea, Ethiopia and Uganda to join the opposition forces led by colonel John Garang, the Christian warlord from the southern Dinka tribe, to overthrow the government of president Omar Hasan al-Bashir. The US has provided more than $20 million to the Sudanese rebels and the three African warmongers, which are ruled by Christian minorities installed, in the case of Ethiopia and Eritrea, by the US in 1991, to finish off the job.

The west and its African proxies have traditionally supported the tiny southern minority’s bid to secede from the north--the oil deposits are in the south--but this is the first time they gave open military support to an ill-disguised plan to dismember Africa’s largest country. It is also the first-time discredited northern politicians--like Sadeq al-Mahdi of the Umma Party whose government was overthrown in 1989 by Bashir--join the Christian secessionists to overthrow the government in Khartoum.

The reason for this unholy alliance is simple: president Bashir’s government is openly committed to the establishment of Islamic rule, and, despite its problems, is opposed to normalisation of relations with Israel by Arabs, as well as to the west’s intervention in Iraqi and Iranian affairs.

But in the long run, it is Indonesia which faces the grimmest prospects as a result of the west’s machinations because of the hundreds of ethnic and linguistic groups into which the population of such a far-flung country is divided. Indonesia consists of about 17,500 islands of extremely varied size and character, of which some 6,000 are inhabited. More than 270 Austronesian languages and 180 Papuan languages have been recognized in the country, but only 13 of these have more than one million speakers. The national language is a development of Malay, which was formally adopted as the national language in 1929 by the nationalist movement, calling it ‘Indonesian’ (Bahasa Indonesia).

In addition to the indigenous ethnic groups, Indonesia has the largest Chinese community in South-east Asia. This community is estimated at three million, about half of whom do not have Indonesian citizenship and are, therefore, considered to be a source of friction in society.

All citizens in Indonesia are required to state their religion. And according to a survey in 1985, 86.9 percent of the population were Muslims, while 9.6 percent were Christians, 1.9 percent were Hindus, one percent were Buddhist and 0.6 percent professed adherence to tribal religions. In 1993 nearly 90 percent of Indonesians were Muslims.

Instead of encouraging Islam as the dominant faith which cements this ethnically and linguistically diverse society, the west has chosen to exploit the country’s tiny Christian minority, especially in East Timor, to de-stabilize a potentially prosperous and powerful Muslim State. And while the west woos big non-Muslim States in the region such as India and China, relentless pressure is exerted on Indonesia to allow East Timor to secede, but not Muslim Aceh-Sumatra, which has a far better case for independence.

The campaign for East Timor is having a knock-on effect on the rest of the country, where minority Christians and ethnic Chinese are often pitted against Muslims. This has been the case in several outbreaks of mob violence in recent months in various parts of Indonesia.

In Nigeria, as in Sudan, the US and Britain are leading the campaign against the country’s overwhelmingly northern Muslims in favour of the minority Christian tribes in the South. The bulk of the country’s oil and gas deposits are in the mainly Christian regions. The US, the European Union and the Commonwealth all imposed limited sanctions in November 1995 after the execution of the dissident Christian playwright Ken Saro-Wiwa.

A bombing wave begun in late November 1996, still continuing, is directed against the government of general Sani Abacha. Nigerian officials blame the country’s largest opposition group, the National Coalition, or Nadeco, many of whose members live in the US. The officials accuse the US and Canada of supporting the violent overthrow of Abacha.

The irony of all this is that the governments of three Muslim countries targeted by the west, have by and large treated their Christian minorities better than their Muslim majorities. Even the hostile western media admit this on the odd occasion.

A recent report in the International Herald Tribune said: ‘In a country where Muslims form 85 percent of the population, a striking feature of the buildings lining both sides of the road on the one-hour drive between Manado and Bitung, the two main towns of North Sulawesi Province, is the prevalence of churches and chapels. On many stretches of the road, travelers can see a Christian place of worship every few hundred meter. By contrast, mosques are few and far between’.

It has never been a secret that Muslims are their own worst enemy. It is becoming exceedingly clear now that the west, which does not want to see a Muslim superpower even in the distant future, wants to keep things that way.

Muslimedia - March 16-31, 1997

Article from

Crescent International Vol. 26, No. 2

Dhu al-Qa'dah 07, 14171997-03-16

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