Indonesia still feeling the effects of its own '9/11'
Bali has never been able to fully recover from 2002 nightclub attacks
While the world remembers the devastation wrought by the terrorist attacks of 9/11, the bustling nation of Indonesia has never really recovered from its own "9/11," attacks that took one year, one month and one day afterwards. Two hundred and two people were killed in nightclub bombings in the tourist-friendly city of Bali, and Indonesians have been on a high state of alert ever since.
A memorial for the people killed in the 2002 bombings in Bali stands in the original spot of Paddy's Pub, the nightclub where many of the victims died.
Of the people killed, 88 were Australians and 38 were Indonesian citizens. An additional 240 people were injured. Damage to the densely populated residential and commercial district was considerable, destroying neighboring buildings and shattering windows several blocks away. The car bomb explosion left a one meter deep crater.
Members of the violent Islamist group, Jemaah Islamiyah were convicted in connection with the bombings, including three individuals who were sentenced to death.
The physical and mental scars of the survivors and relatives are still painfully present nine years later. Many feel that Indonesia was never truly the same afterwards. Security up until that point was not an important issue. Indonesia is world-renowned for its openness and laid back way of life. Religious harmony in the largely Muslim nation had been seriously tested over the years, but a live-and-let-live attitude was still one of Indonesia's trade marks. This has all changed.
While many Indonesians condemned the killings, many others kept silent or came out in support. U.S. attacks on Afghanistan and Iraq had also contributed to growing anti-western sentiments. It took years and three more bomb attacks in Jakarta to change public sentiments.
Terrorism in Indonesia is not as strong as it once was, but new recruits are never far away. A suicide bomber responsible for the most recent attack in Jakarta in July 2009 was an 18-year-old student who had just finished high school.
Regrettably, religious intolerance is on the rise, and according to the most recent surveys, and Indonesia's leadership seems unable to turn the tide.
"In Bali, the bomb site remains a hole in its bustling tourism center, like a broken tooth never replaced," Al Jazeera correspondent Step Vaessen writes.
"That empty field in the heart of Kuta's shopping district reminds visitors of a nightmare that the Balinese long have been trying to forget . As in New York, Bali finds it hard to maintain the spirit of togetherness that was so present just after those bombs changed everything."
© 2011, Catholic Online. Distributed by NEWS CONSORTIUM.
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Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
Missionary Intention: Middle Eastern Christians. That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.
Keywords: Bali, terrorism, bombings, radical Islam
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