.. nt Indonesian society polygamy is regarded as morally reprehensible. Islamic banks emerged in Indonesia in the 1960s and have since grown rapidly. There popularity among the population is a response to the growing western influences, people wish to reclaim the old values of Islam. In an Islamic banking system, interest cannot be accepted on loans or given to money in saving accounts.

In an Islamic bank, a person can place money in a bank account. The bank uses this money to invest in other business and then divides the profit between them and the client at a predetermined rate. Interest was banned in the Koran because it was seen as the exploitation of the economically weak by the strong and powerful. Indonesian women are far more socially and politically advanced than women in almost all other Less-Developed countries where Islam is the majority religion. Women in Indonesia are not required or expected to wear the hijab, but most cover their heads with a scarf. The men do not treat them as second-class citizens but men and women are segregated in houses of worship.

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Women, such as Megawati Sukarnoputri can hold very high positions in Indonesian society. Despite these advances Indonesian women are still not allowed to vote in any elections. Indonesia is currently in a state of turmoil, protest constantly break out into full-scale riots and looting. The major social problem facing Indonesia currently is the escalating violence. Political analysts, Frans Magnis-Suseno said in Asia Week “Indonesia has a tradition of violence” and in the current society this is becoming more evident.

The trouble began to appear soon after Indonesia’s economy collapsed and the people were looking to find someone to blame. They were led to believe that the Chinese minority who control much of the wealth caused the problems. The indigenous people (pribumi) felt discriminated against and in the post Suharto era they were more inclined to say so. Because the majority of ethnic Chinese were of a different religion to the majority, the violence developed into Muslim verses Christian conflicts and was a demonstration of the distrust that exists towards other ethnic groups and belief systems despite the presence of widely diverse groups that live in Indonesia. Indonesian people from both cultures also began to protest against the widespread corruption that is institutionalised in the Indonesian parliament and governing bodies.

After Suharto was re-elected unopposed the people took to the street. They had enough of their government. These protests readily turn into full-scale riots and Indonesia’s people turned their anger to racial and religious differences. People also wish to end the militarys role in Indonesias government. This resulted in army officers such as General Wiranto taking being given less prominent roles in the newly formed government. Indonesias frustrations also boiled over onto the street because in June the World Bank estimated that as many as 50 million people are not eating the minimum amount of calories needed to stay healthy.

This is because in less than two months the price of rice doubled. It is also widely believed that the violence in instigated and encouraged by people on the verge of power, including members of the Indonesian army. Men who are well out of their teens have been seen wearing school uniforms. Many army uniforms have gone missing and it is suspected that the people wearing these have fired shots at students to prompt a violent reaction from them and reduce their creditability. These people have been exploiting Islam because Islam is supposed to respect other religions, not burn their churches. Conflicts between religious groups have developed for many other reasons.

Many Muslim extremists are working to make Indonesia an Islamic state. Many other Muslims and people from minority religions strongly oppose this view. The newly elected president Abdurrahman Wahid is totally against making Indonesia an Islamic state. He believes that his people should subscribe to nationalism first and Islam second and has always tried to improve relations between Christians and Muslims and between the Pribumi and ethnic Chinese. After his election as president, many extremists held heated protests throughout the archipelago.

In Ambon the religions are almost evenly divided among the populous. The two groups have been living harmoniously for many years and the two groups have been working together in business and on civic projects. Yet, recently the situation has changed. The most probable cause of the violence was an argument between a Christian bus driver and a Muslim migrant. From this small incident the violence spread and intensified.

Mobs burned several businesses and left Christian and Chinese shops intact. Barricades and signs such as, “You are now entering Muslim territory”, were erected and to travel to certain areas a person must recite a prayer as a proof of religion. Leaders from both sides have stated that they are only defending their respective communities. The ethnic Chinese population who are living in Indonesia are among the wealthy people of Indonesia. The Chinese are barred from the military and the civic service.

Ethnic Indonesians feel resentment towards them and have resorted to beating, murdering and arson in an attempt to get rid of the ethnic Chinese so the pribumi can take over their business and wealth. One of the strongest cases to show Indonesias resentment towards ethnic Chinese occurred after a mayor in Java blocked plans to build a school on an old Chinese cemetery. Mobs ransacked the graveyard, dug up the corpses and stole the valuables that were buried along side the dead and the coffins and marble headstones were stolen and sold. At present Islam is being used as a vehicle for people to cause disruption and further their own ambitions and gain more power. They are using the uneducated and bigoted people in Indonesias society.

The people of Indonesia, from almost all religions, have forgotten the values that their respective religions are meant to uphold. The chaos is caused by religion and many religious leaders are doing little to stop and prevent the violence. Hostile groups send out bands of vigilantes to roam the streets, beat people and then flee to their respective churches or mosques. No matter what the violence and protest are for; it is almost always tinged with a religious purpose.