Aceh province, one of the most affected regions of the world following Boxing Day's Tsunami, is a focal point for military and civilian aid agencies
seeking to help those in need. However, some Islamic groups claim that the influx of westerners may cause a corruption of traditional beliefs. At the
same time, a 30 year war appears to continue despite the devestation.
Australian troops and aid workers had not been specifically threatened by hardline Islamic groups in Indonesia, Defence Minister Robert Hill said
The Australian newspaper reported today the Islamic Defender's Front had said the presence of Australians in the Indonesian province of Aceh, which is
governed by Islamic law, could corrupt the culture.
Senator Hill said while the government had general concerns about Islamist groups, he was not aware of any specific threats against Australia's aid
operations in the tsunami-hit area.
"There is the concern about Islamist groups and we must take that seriously because, whilst it would seem almost inconceivable to us that a terrorist
arm of such a group would take the opportunity of such a disaster to inflict another message, nevertheless there have been inconceivable things happen
around the world in recent years," Senator Hill told ABC radio.
Please visit the link provided for the complete story.
Australian and other nation aid personnel, whether Military or Civilian, are currently afforded protection by the Indonesian Military. Aceh has been
the focus of a 30 year war between Indonesian troops and the Free Aceh Movement, otherwise known as GAM, who seek to seperate from Indonesian control
and establish an autonomous Islamic nation.
So, the question is, is everyone charitable in this time on need? Is the presence of westerners, despite the fact they are helping over 300 000 people
that have been affected in Sumatra by the Tsunami, so galling that action may be taken by hardline groups such as GAM or other fundamentalist groups?
Despite the spirit of charity that currently exists, the threat from terrorist or militant groups remains ever present. The focus, quite rightly, has
to be those worst hit by tragedy. One cautious eye, however, must be maintained, so that the tragedy isn't compounded by those who would seek harm to
aid givers in the name of a cause.