Threatened "sweeping" actions by certain minority Moslem groups in Jakarta and Central Java in response to possible U.S. military actions against terrorist targets in Afghanistan have many people in Bali down right angry. Throughout Indonesia's past years of political instability, Bali has always managed to maintain the peace even though other areas of Indonesia were suffering public unrest. In Bali, politics and tourism have always been completely separate entities, a philosophy that has allowed tourism to flourish on an island where guests enjoy holidays of uninterrupted enjoyment.
As a result, the people of Bali from every walk of life and every faith were shocked and dismayed when militant fundamentalists elsewhere recently suggested American tourists should be physically confronted and asked to leave the country. In Bali, such behavior is seen as not only bad for business, but exceedingly bad manners.
On the island of the Gods, thank you, but we'll have no part of such over-emotive hyperbole.
Both Bali's Governor and its Chief of Tourism have issued separate unequivocal statements underlining their opposition to such actions and emphasizing that local Bali-Hindu traditions make such behavior in Bali unthinkable. Local press reports are also reflecting solid community-wide opposition to such tactics and hint at resolute action against anyone attempting to harass Bali's visitors as a means of opposing any possible conflict in Central Asia.
Bali's police authorities are following suit and have adopted a "no-nonsense" approach to protests aimed at visiting tourists, promising hard jail-time to any individuals or groups, such as the Islamic Defender's Front (FPI), who may attempt to demand American visitors leave the island if America launches military attacks on Afghanistan. In written orders to all police precincts in Bali, the Vice-Chief of the Provincial Police for Bali (Wakapolda), Drs. Wenny Warouw, has ordered police to have no hesitation whatsoever taking strong repressive actions against anyone threatening any visitors to Bali. To back up his command, he also cautioned potential provocateurs that such acts carry criminal penalties from 8 to 12 years. Any agitators looking to come to Bali to stir up trouble can, according to our Police department, look forward to an extended stay at the State's expense.
At the same time, Vice-Chief Drs. Warouw has assured all tourists, and specifically American visitors, that his department has the matter well in hand, ensuring holidays without interruption remain the norm. At the same time, he asked all levels of society not to be influenced by any rumors of "sweeping" in Bali.
In a related development, the Chairman of the Forum for Inter-Faith Communication, Drs. Ketut Suda Sugira has strongly criticized "sweeping" actions elsewhere as having the potential of creating unwanted problems for Bali's tourism industry. Speaking to the Bali Post, Drs. Sugira said, "we completely reject any sweeping actions threatened by the FPI in connection with the conflict between the United States and Afghanistan."
Drs. Sugira also sounded an ominous warning to members of the minority FPI in Bali that any sweeping action would most likely confront the very substantial pacalang traditional community watch forces active in every Balinese village.
Meanwhile, callers monitored on local talk radioGlobal FM also continue to demonstrate unanimous condemnation of threatened sweeping actions in Jakarta and Central Java, with the more animated callers even urging police authorities to "shoot on sight" any individuals attempting to sweep or harass American visitors to Bali.
Bali views the U.S. – Afghanistan conflict as far removed from the daily life of their island and they have every intention of keeping it that way.
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