THIS MAY DAY as I write, and peevish French leftists have found something to denounce besides the State of Israelnamely, the success of Jean-Marie Le Pen. Apart from some crude and insensitive public statementsfor which Le Pen should have apologized, and hasit seems the old warrior’s greatest crime is that he wishes to deport illegal immigrants. Now, the U.S. deports illegals all the timethat infamous fascist Dwight Eisenhower even conducted large-scale sweeps, to remove thousands of Latin Americans who’d overstayed their work visas. You seeand I wish I could explain this very slowly, on French TVthose people…were here…illegally. So we…sent them…home.
You don’t have to live in sight of downtown Manhattan to understand why people might object when their country accepts large numbers of disaffected, politicized Muslims. Ask the last few Serbs cowering in Kosovo, or the Christians of Armenia, Sudan, Nigeria, Pakistan, and Lebanon about Islamic "tolerance."
But this week, you probably ought to ask the Christians who live in the Moluccas, part of that grab-bag menagerie of nations, Indonesia. This Sunday, thousands of black-clad Muslims attacked the Christians of Ambon, the province’s capital, wielding rifles, gasoline bombs and swords. Twelve Christians were killed, many more were wounded, and a churchhalf-rebuilt since the last Muslim attackwas reduced to rubble. These were only the latest casualties in the fighting, which has claimed at least 5000 deaths since 1999, according to Reuters News.
While more than 85 percent of Indonesians are Muslimsmost of a not very militant sortin the Moluccas, half the population is Christian, and many of those support an independence movement, the South Moluccas Republic. More Christians turned to this movement as they saw what happened to the Catholics of East Timor: a genocidal onslaught, conducted with the full connivance of the Indonesian military. While the current government has proved more moderate, arranging a peace treaty in February with the separatists, it may not be able to restrain the forces of resurgent Islamist terror. A radical Muslim militia, the 15,000-strong Laskar Jihad, has continued to flood the Moluccas with immigrants from Java, to tip the population balance in Islam’s favor, and create a ready mass of future militants.
The Laskar Jihad renounced the peace deal early this week. Its leader, some charmer named Jafar Umar Thalib, told a rally of thousands of militants to resume their attacks on local Christians, according to the BBC. Thalib’s strategy mirrors that employed to crush East Timorese Christians who sought independence. Only the intervention of U.N. peacekeepersmostly from Australiabrought that genocide to a halt, and smoothed the way for East Timor’s recent free elections.
Historically, the key to toleration for Christian minorities under Islamic occupation has been the interest and protection of a foreign sponsor. The Bulgarians, Serbs and Romanians under Ottoman rule could expect support from Tsarist Russia, which deemed itself protector of Orthodox Christians. The Crusader States offered the long-suffering Armenians some respite from the genocidal attentions of the Turks. The French have periodically intervened to assist the Christians of Lebanon. And tiny Portugal still champions the rights of its former colonial subjects in Goa and East Timor, against the vastly more powerful India and Indonesia. But no one expects the Netherlandsland of assisted suicide, legal prostitution, and hashish cafesto take much interest in the religious rights of Indonesian Christians, left orphaned at independence from the Dutch in 1950.
Make no mistake: Laskar Jihad seeks to impose Islamic lawcomplete with stoning for adultery, severed hands for theft, and the death penalty for Muslims who convert to another faithupon the 210 million residents of Indonesia, including the Christian, Hindu and animist minorities. According to BBC, three years of fighting have "left more than 6,000 people dead and forced 750,000 to flee their homes." Things look bad for the churches of Ambon.
But there’s one fly in the Islamist ointment: It seems that Jafar Umar Thalib may be linked to the al-Qaeda terrorist network of Osama bin Laden. The BBC reports that the two have met on at least one occasion, and the U.S. is looking into whether the two movements cooperate. If they do, then the Christians of the Moluccas will find their sponsor, and their oppressors could go the way of the Taliban. By that time, al-Qaeda may well have moved its headquarters to Paris.