Magazine of the Socialist Party, Australian section of the CWI

Jakarta bombings play into hands of ruling classes

“People such as women and children who are not involved in the fight against Muslims should not be killed. But the problem is we don’t know for sure that the victims weren’t involved in the fight against Islam. Even the thought of fighting against Islam is involvement. Everyone that thinks like that is allowed to be killed.”

By Socialist Party reporters

These are the chilling words of Abu Bakar Bashi, the spiritual head of Jemaah Islamiah (JI) when asked about the bombings of the Jakarta JW Marriot and Ritz Carlton hotels last month. These words show the reactionary, anti-working class character of organisations such as JI.

The bombings, which killed at least nine people and injured 50 others, do nothing to serve the interests of ordinary people – Muslim or otherwise – in Indonesia or anywhere else in the world. In fact they undermine working class support in the West for the struggle against the imperialist occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan.

They allow the Indonesian state to increase repression – first against terrorist groups, then against trade unions, student organisations and all opposition forces. Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has already begun this process, bizarrely suggesting that his opposition in the Presidential elections, Prabowo Subianto, may be behind the bombings.

In fact rightwing Islamic extremist groups like Al Qaeda and JI were created and nurtured by the imperialists themselves. During the 1980s, the US financed and armed a guerilla war against Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. What are today’s terrorists were then called freedom fighters – including Bin Laden himself.

Later these organizations turned against the US-backed regimes that replaced the Soviet-backed government and this later led to the 9/11 attacks.

In Indonesia, growing dissatisfaction with the government, and a union and left movement that has failed to link their democratic demands to the need for socialism, has opened up opportunities for rightwing political Islam to grow. The Jakarta bombings were an attempt by JI to raise their profile amongst the impoverished Muslim masses.

In Australia, both the ALP and Coalition have claimed the bombings had little to do with Australian involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan and that a withdrawal of troops now would “send the wrong message”. The Socialist Party says that the occupation of these two countries, rather than weakening terrorism, is actually breeding support for organisations such as JI.

The creation of mass, democratic, secular socialist parties and unions in Iraq, Afghanistan and Indonesia is only way forward for workers and the poor. Unity between working people internationally is our alternative to sectarian terrorism and imperialist occupation.