Riots, Pogroms, Jihad: Religious Violence in Indonesia

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By John T. Sidel

The October 2002 bombing of a Balinese nightclub and subsequent attacks on foreign targets in Bali and Jakarta brought Indonesia into the spotlight as a site of Islamist terrorist violence, but the complexities of political and religious struggles in Indonesia, the most populous Muslim country in the world, remain poorly understood.

In Riots, Pogroms, Jihad, John T. Sidel situates terrorist bombings and other "jihadist" activities in Indonesia against the backdrop of earlier episodes of religious violence in the country, including religious riots in provincial towns and cities in 1995-97, the May 1998 riots in Jakarta, and inter-religious pogroms in 1999-2001. Through a close account of these episodes drawn from a wide range of documentary, ethnographic, and journalistic materials, he considers religious violence in terms of the broader political and sociological contexts in which they unfolded. Successive shifts in the incidence of violence - its forms, locations, targets, perpetrators, mobilizational processes, and outcomes - correspond, Sidel suggests, to related shifts in the very structures of religious authority and identity in Indonesia. He interprets the most recent "jihadist" violence as a reflection of the post-1998 decline of Islam as a banner for unifying and moblizing Muslims in Indonesia.

The book's conclusion offers a reflection on the broader implications of the pattern observed in Indonesia for understanding Islamic terrorism in particular and for analyzing religious violence in all its varieties.


John T. SIDEL is Sir Patrick Gillam Professor of International and Comparative Politics at the London School of Economics and Political Science.


Publication Year: 2007
280 pages, 229mm x 152mm
ISBN: 978-9971-69-357-2, Paperback

NUS Press and Cornell University Press