Jan 16, 2005

Why we are being asked to leave - Part 1

Today the Antara news agency reports that all foreign volunteers are to leave Indonesia by the end of March and the sooner the better.

I will try my best here to offer my insight into why we are being asked to leave.

The word "biblical" has been used by many in the Western media to describe the devastating earthquake and tsunami that ravaged Indonesia and Southeast Asia and killed so many people, the majority of whom are muslims. It's important to take note of the use of this word because it not only highlights, but rather emphasizes the "us versus them" dichotomy in the minds of many muslims not only in Indonesia but throughout the world.

This "clash of cultures" is antagonized further when foreign military forces accompanied by a plethora of ecumenical humanitarian agencies are deployed by the West to deliver aid and humanitarian assistance to those in need. It makes no difference if you are "non denominational" or not affiliated with any religious organziation, we are by still seen by many as nothing more than interloping foreigners and white Christians intent on proselytizing if not through our words then through our actions.

The religious aspects aside, it touches a raw nerve for a sovereign country, who has fought for their independence and who has had sixty years to get their act together, to once again have to rely on their old colonial masters in a time of need.

Unfortunately many Islamic fundamentalists, nationalists and Indonesian leaders will not see our compassion and generosity, they will see us only bringing light to, and drawing attention to their own impotence and despondency in the wake of this natural disaster. Those Indonesian leaders who favoured and supported the help from foreign troops and ecumenical humanitarian agencies run the risk in the future of being labeled as anglophiles, americaphiles and at worst, traitors to their own nation.

to be continued...

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