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At times this summer, much of the Muslim world seemed at war with itself. In Iran, protesters furious over what they viewed as a stolen election spilled into the streets and were met with a brutal security crackdown. In Pakistan, powerful Taliban-type militant groups battled the army. In neighboring Afghanistan, opposition leader Abdullah Abdullah and local tribal leaders accused President Hamid Karzai of stealing the national election.
Farther south, the world’s largest Muslim nation, Indonesia, received far less attention. Yet what happened there in July ultimately could prove far more important than the meltdowns in Afghanistan or Pakistan or Iran. Some 100 million Indonesians, spread across a vast archipelago, went to the polls, and in a free and fair vote, they reelected president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, leader of the secular Democrat Party. Hard-line Islamic parties fielded candidates as well, but they barely registered at the polls, gaining less of the vote than they had in the previous national election five years ago.
“If you want to know whether Islam, democracy, modernity and women’s rights can coexist, go to Indonesia,” Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on a trip to Southeast Asia earlier this year.
Though Indonesian leaders themselves are hesitant to lecture other countries, their model could offer lessons for nations from Pakistan to Morocco.
Just a decade ago, few would have seen Indonesia as a model of any kind.
For full story, please click the link to the Boston Globe above..