Jan 4, 2005

Rebuilding Dar -al-Islam

Once again today more urgent calls went out appealing for Americans donate what they can to help the victims of the South Asia quake and tsunamis. President Bush himself appealed directly to all Americans, "I ask every American to contribute as they are able to do so".

This urgent plea for more donations goes out despite the fact that both the countries of Thailand and India have publically stated that they are in no need of any financial assistance and are perfectly able to handle the situation on their own. Despite being flooded with generous offers of aid, both countries have turned aid down and publically stated that they have adequate resources to handle the situation on their own.

Interestingly enough, on the same day that appeals go out for more donations Secretary of State Colin Powell stated "The question right now is not money. There is a lot of money available. The question is how do we use that money, not only for immediate relief, but for long-term reconstruction".

The United Nations alone now has received a record US$1.5 Billion dollars with pledges of over US$2.0 Billion and rising. This does not take into consideration the massive donations of money, food, medicine and emergency supplies donated by private industries as well.

With two of the countries most seriously affected already turning down financial assistance, one has to wonder where all this money is headed and why the continued appeals for more donations despite the fact that more than enough money and donations have already been received.

In a catastrophe such as this that requires massive amounts of humanitarian assistance, the highest priority we have is to provide food, potable water and health care to all those in the afflicted regions. And we are doing that now. But once we have done that, what further obligations are we under? Why is so much more money needed? Are we responsible for rebuilding the tourist industries of Sri Lanka and Thailand? Or perhaps we can rebuild the churches in Aceh that the Muslim fundamentalists have burned down in recent years.

The most affected region in this terrible earthquake and tsunami, and most likely the largest recipient of international aid and reconstruction efforts will be Aceh, or as it is known now as "Aceh Dar -al-Islam".

After several years of fighting and civil war with Indonesia, "Aceh Dar -al-Islam" implemented Syariah law on 15 March 2002. The persecution of Christians and the Islamisation of Aceh immediately following the implementation of Syariah law has been both swift and severe, more so than at any time in the past. There now remains very little sign that Christianity ever existed in Aceh.

While many of us feel that it is our duty to provide emergency humanitarian aid for these people. Do we really want our tax dollars, pledges and donations of aid being used for any long-term reconstruction efforts? Do we intend to help these people in Aceh get back on their feet so that they can go right back to persecuting women and persecuting and killing Christians and non-muslims again?

There are many Christians and non-muslims in nearby Medan, Sumatra and the surrounding region who sincerely believe that the earthquake and tsunami that occured on Christmas day was in fact nothing more than divine intervention. Many wonder now, do we have any long term plans to help rebuild the infrastructure of what has been destroyed and in the process will we inadvertently strenghen and support their oppressors?

As we speak, our brave soldiers both men and women are on the ground in Aceh delivering humanitarian aid where it is needed and doing our best to help all the people who have suffered both muslim and non-muslim alike.

As our mission is carried out we must be aware of what we will be up against in the very near future. Having our military troops on the ground in Aceh is an extremely sensitive and quite possibly a volatile issue that we will need to deal with as Islamic militancy groups such as Laksar Jihad and the Islamic Defender's Front move into the region as they mobilize relief efforts of their own.

Mr. Hilmy Bakar Almascaty, vice-chairman of the Jakarta-based Islamic Defenders Front, gave a veiled warning.

"If they are not sensitive to local issues then there will be problems. If American women come to Aceh, they must wear dilbab for example. There is Sharia law in Aceh and that is what is dictated."

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