IJCH 2018 Vol.4(3): 48-58 ISSN: 2382-6177
doi: 10.18178/ijch.2018.4.3.121

Engaging Political Islam: The Case of General Soeharto, Mahathir Mohamad, and Ferdinand E. Marcos

Elizar J. Zamora
Abstract—The effect of Islamic radicalism has been felt in many parts of the globe. Right after the 9/11 bombing of the World Trade Center in New York, there has been heightened anxieties about Islamic radicalism worldwide. In the light of this development Southeast Asian region has been dragged into the web of Islamic terrorism when in 2000 the Light Railway Train in Manila was bombed by Jemaah Islamiyah terrorists, and the tourist resort bombing in Bali, Indonesia in 2002. In 2001, Singapore’s Internal Security Department classified intelligence reports reveal that Indonesia, Malaysia, southern Thailand, and southern Philippines were used as breeding and training grounds of terrorists. The extension of the U.S campaign against terrorism in the region has complicated the matter since American policy makers concentrated their efforts on the fringe violent Islamic extremist groups and portrayed them in western media as the sole representative of the Islamic world. This wrong assumption may lead to the demonization of Islam and definitely will have a big impact on the relations between the Muslim world and the west and among Muslim themselves. Thus, oftentimes there is a tendency to pigeon hole Islam, Islamic radicalism, Islamic fundamentalism, and political Islam as one. The paper demonstrates that the engagement of the three Southeast Asian authoritarian leaders: General Soeharto, Mahathir, and Marcos with political Islam proves that Islam in Southeast Asia is not monolithic that it is determined by context, it can be contained, co-opted, racialized, accommodated, and be used to legitimize power.

Index Terms—Islamic radicalism, Jemaah Islamiyah, Pan – Islamic state, political Islam.

Elizar J. Zamora is with the Far Eastern University, Centro Escolar University, Manila, Philippines (e-mail: ezamora@feu.edu.ph).

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Cite: Elizar J. Zamora, "Engaging Political Islam: The Case of General Soeharto, Mahathir Mohamad, and Ferdinand E. Marcos," International Journal of Culture and History vol. 4, no. 3, pp. 48-58, 2018.

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