Suharto Era Comops Backfire in 2012 Indonesia

by Chris Lundry Indonesian extremists continue to portray Ambonese Christians as engaged in separatist rebellion against Indonesia, and a crusade against Muslims. This isn’t true, but raises the question: where on earth did they get this idea? The adage that if a lie gets repeated enough times it becomes true is, apparently, applicable in Indonesia’s Ambon region. It was home to a brief separatist insurgency following the Indonesian revolution (1945-49).  Following their defeat in 1950, […] Read more »

Islamism and Dissent vs. Identity in the Voting Booth

by Jeffry R. Halverson* “If a group of people feels that it has been humiliated and that its honor has been trampled underfoot, it will want to express its identity.”                                                                                           […] Read more »

Contesting New Media: Indonesia vs. the Muslim World League

By Mark Woodward and Inayah Rohmaniyah* Earlier this month (December 13-15) we were privileged to participate in a “The 2nd International Conference on Islamic Media” sponsored by the Saudi sponsored Muslim World League (MWL, Rabita al-Alam al-Islami) and the Indonesian Ministry of Religion in Jakarta Indonesia.  Tension between the co-sponsors was evident in the selection of participants, the themes of formal presentations and in social interaction over the course of the conference. Differing perspectives on […] Read more »

Why Story is Not Narrative

By Jeffry R. Halverson I’ll admit that I slip sometimes in everyday conversation and use the word “story” as a synonym for “narrative.” A lot of people do it. But I should know better. There’s an important difference between the two. For the average conversation the difference doesn’t really matter much. However, when it comes to strategic communication and understanding the role of narrative in messaging strategies, it’s a distinction that has to be made. […] Read more »

Putting the Islamist “win” in Tunisia in Context

by Jeffry R. Halverson Put him in power and see how wise he is. – Ernest Hemingway, A Farewell to Arms I have spent an inordinate amount of time studying Islamist ideologues and their ideas during my relatively short lifetime. I’ve never read War and Peace, but I have read Milestones and The Neglected Duty. In recent months, the Tunisian Islamist and leader of Ennahda, Rachid Ghannouchi, has occupied a good deal of my attention. […] Read more »

Extremism and Contested Tunisian Identity in Kairouan

by Jeffry R. Halverson I recently traveled to Tunisia where I visited the ancient holy city of Kairouan. Elections for the constituent assembly to produce a new Tunisian constitution are less than two weeks away and there is a lot of discussion taking place about the nature of Tunisian identity and the role of Islam in Tunisian society. Islamists, both mainstream and radical, obviously envision a prominent role for Islam. However, my experiences in Kairouan, […] Read more »

Yes, Extremists are Paying Attention

by Chris Lundry Last year, my colleagues Steven Corman, Jeffrey Halverson and I wrote a series of blog posts exploring Islamist reactions to anti-Islam and anti-Muslim events in the US, including the debate over the Park51 Islamic Center and an American pastor’s proposal to burn a Qur’an on 9/11, among others. One of the points we made in our final post was that these events fuel the extremist narrative that the US and its allies […] Read more »

Extremists Stoking Religious Violence in Indonesia

by Chris Lundry Violence between Muslims and Christians broke out in the city of Ambon, Maluku Province, Indonesia on Sunday, September 11. Official sources state that an ojek (motorcycle taxi) driver named Darmis Saiman was killed in an accident on September 10. But rumors sent via text message spread the following day when he was buried claimed that the Muslim driver had been tortured to death by Christians.At last count, seven people have been confirmed […] Read more »

Seeing the Syrian Conflict through Narrative

By Jeffry R. Halverson Unlike the protests of the Arab Spring in Tunisia and Egypt, the campaigns underway against the Assad regime in Syria have a distinctly sectarian character. The Assad regime is dominated by the Alawites, a little-known esoteric Shi‘ite sect. However, the majority of Syria’s population is Sunni Muslim (approx. 75%). And caught in the middle of the conflict are Syria’s Christians (10% of the pop.), Druze, Twelver Shi‘ites, and others, including a […] Read more »

Implicit Master Narratives in Extremist Website Launch

by Jeffry R. Halverson If you’ve read our book Master Narratives of Islamist Extremism then you already have a solid understanding of the major master narratives employed by Islamist extremists in their communications. For example, you’re able to recognize the significance of a Pharaoh reference when an extremist is condemning a world leader. Or you’re able to see the apocalyptic scheme articulated in Ahmadinejad’s praise of the “Lord of the Age” (which is not a […] Read more »