Indonesia is in the news today for the conviction of Abu Bakar Basyir, the Indonesian Muslim cleric suspected of being the spiritual leader of Jemaah Islamiyah, a Southeast Asian radical Muslim group responsible for several explosions in Indonesia. He was convicted, it seems, of giving his approval for the 2002 Bali nightclub bombing. It is not clear whether or not he had any role more significant than that in the conspiracy, but if he did, Indonesia was unable to prove it. His sentence is 30 months, something of a slap on the wrist in the views of many. Here’s a picture of him with the New York Times article describing his conviction.
Also in the New York Times, for those of you who live in New York, there is a review of a couple of Indonesian restaurants within the five boroughs. Of course, the best Indonesian food is still available only in Indonesia, as the review makes clear.
In a totally unrelated story, I (TP) got to go to a lunch with the Cultural Attache at the US Embassy today, along with all the other Fulbrighters in Malaysia, both students and faculty. The location was quite nice, at the Islamic Arts Museum, which we will certainly have to visit again. The lunch itself was interesting, although I am embarrassed for my country when I report that of the 10 or so Fulbrighters grantees in Malaysia, precisely 1 of them has taken the time to try to learn the language, that being me. I know that the prevalence of English around here means that you can get around without speaking any Malay, but how can you really study a country without knowing the language?