Eight dead as IS threat rears head in Indonesia
2016-02-03 15:07:07 -

By Asdrúbal Santana


At least eight people were killed last month in terrorist attacks by the so-called Islamic State in the capital of the world’s largest Muslim country.

A Dutch national working for the United Nations was among those who died in the series of suicide bombings and shootouts in the Indonesian capital of Jakarta on 14 January.

And at least 20 more were injured in the attacks that were widely condemned as “an act of terror” by local authorities. 

“We all are grieving for the fallen victims of this incident, but we also condemn the act that has disturbed the security and peace among our people,” said Indonesian President Joko Widodo.

According to a survey commissioned by the Pew Research Center before the attacks, four per cent of Indonesians claimed a positive view of IS.

The study, which included 10 other countries with significant Muslim populations, reported an overwhelmingly negative view of the terror group in most states surveyed. 

The only exception was Pakistan, where although only nine per cent were said to have a favourable opinion, 62 per cent elected not to respond.

In Lebanon, another recent victim of terrorism, 99 per cent voiced overwhelming opposition to IS and their tactics, while in Israel the figure was 97 per cent. In the case of the Palestinian territories, 84 per cent said they were opposed to IS, both in the Gaza Strip (92%) and the West Bank (79%).

Other countries interviewed included Turkey, Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Malaysia, Nigeria and Senegal. In every case, no more than 14 per cent shared a positive opinion towards the terrorists.

“[Respondents] know that by their actions, IS is trying to turn the non-Muslim world against them,” as Chris Doyle, director of the Council for Arab-British Understanding (Caabu) told the UK’s Independent newspaper. “These results are not a surprise.”

In another poll commissioned by the Statista for the Independent, which included other countries with large Muslim communities such as Iran, Iraq, Syria, Saudi Arabia and Egypt, the results were similar. 

The highest support was shown in Syria, an IS stronghold, where up to 21 per cent said to have a favourable view of the extremists.

“Hundreds of thousands of civilians live in swathes of the country controlled by [IS] and more than four million refugees have fled the country,” the newspaper pointed out regarding the Syrian case.

As for Iraq, where IS was formed, only five per cent were reported to support the terrorists. 

Similar low favourable opinions were recorded in Saudi Arabia (4%), Jordan, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates (3% each), Egypt (2%) and Iran (0%).

IS is seen as “a threat to communities across the Arab world”, according to Doyle. 

“Muslims are their primary victims after all. The brutal nature of their rule, the way they have treated women, all the beheadings, have not endeared them to people,” he added.

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