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EDITIONS
Crossing Continents Friday, 12 March, 1999, 11:29 GMT
Indonesian Islam moves to centre stage
Julian Pettifer at a rally of the populist, Muslim PKB (National Awakening Party) in Surabaya
In this edition of Crossing Continents, Julian Pettifer travels to Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim country, to discover an Islam full of surprises.


Listen to the programme in full


As befits a country which has been a cultural and economic crossroads for centuries, the Indonesian way of practicing Islam has traditionally been tolerant and open-minded, incorporating elements of Hinduism and local beliefs. Now, it's become a crucial medium of political expression, following the fall of President Suharto and the collapse of the economy. But as Islam enters the political mainstream, it risks becoming a pretext for communal violence.

Islam and reform are now linked in many minds
Julian Pettifer meets the new breed of Islamic leaders who are trying to calm the tensions - religious, economic and ethnic - which are threatening social stability. And he hears how they are trying to combine Islam and democracy, with a new political model which they believe will be very different from those which currently reign in the Middle East.

A Jakarta tobacconist's stall
The programme also finds out more about the might of Indonesia's tobacco barons. Most Indonesian men smoke and the fragrance of kretek - clove cigarettes - is everywhere. Smoking rates have doubled since the 1970s. The tobacco industry is a huge earner for the government, and its leaders are politically well connected. The monopoly on cloves was even closely associated with one of Suharto's sons. Julian Pettifer meets the few brave campaigners with the thankless task of persuading Indonesia to kick the habit. And he learns why it's so difficult for men to refuse a cigarette - as their friends or family might think they are worryingly effeminate.

Bandung's 'Mr Lightning' - aka Dr Reynaldo Zoro
Indonesia has another singular distinction - it suffers from more electrical storms than any other country on earth, with 200 thunderstorm days a year. Julian Pettifer meets the man they call "Mr. Lightning" - Dr. Reynaldo Zoro of the Institute of Technology in Bandung. Dr. Zoro explains why thunderstorms are so frequent in Indonesia and also discusses the best way to avoid death by lightning.

And he reveals why some cows are struck by lightning and others escape it - even when it strikes nearby. It all depends on the angle at which the cow is standing: if it is at right angles to the point of strike, then one pair of legs will be nearer than the other. This creates a voltage differential, with fatal results. Clever (or lucky) cows stand parallel to the point of strike, with all their legs at an equal distance from the lightning - and stay alive. <

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Thunderstorm in Bandung, Indonesia, Feb 99 (HL)
to hear one of Indonesia's famous thunderstorms ....
See also:

29 Jan 99 | SPECIAL REPORT
11 Dec 98 | SPECIAL REPORT
23 Feb 99 | Asia-Pacific
24 May 98 | SPECIAL REPORT
21 May 98 | SPECIAL REPORT
27 Nov 98 | Asia-Pacific
12 Jun 98 | Health
Links to more Crossing Continents stories are at the foot of the page.


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Links to more Crossing Continents stories

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