Indonesian Intolerance Rising

Last Saturday night, a band of fundamentalist Islamic thugs showed up in the Indonesian town of Sukoharjo in Central Java and broke up a performance of wayang, the iconic Javanese shadow puppetry that is a symbol of Indonesian culture. Throwing rocks and waving machetes, the youths, calling themselves Laskar Jihad – holy warriors – forced the audience out of the performance. Two people were beaten, witnesses said. It was the latest of an escalating series of disturbing incidents across Indonesia that threaten the country’s traditional reputation for tolerance, not only for the arts but for non-Islamic religions.

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