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Could Indonesia's democracy be Egypt's model?

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Bashir case could set precedent

Bashir faces a litany of charges that include raising funds for a militant training camp in Aceh and sanctioning armed robberies and killings in support of holy war. After escaping convictions in his previous two trials – earning him the moniker the "Teflon Terrorist" – Bashir now faces a dossier of evidence that allegedly ties him to the camp in Aceh, including testimony from his inner circle.

Observers say prosecutors only have to make the charges stick on one count to secure a guilty verdict and provide a milestone for Indonesian democracy.

“Of course, the more charges they get to stick, and the more damning, the better,” says Greg Fealy, a professor of Indonesian politics at Australian National University. Some Islamist politicians remain skeptical about Bashir’s support for terrorist activities, but Professor Fealy says a conviction would put an end to such doubts.

“It could be a precedent for going after a lot of other firebrand clerics that are deliberately inciting people to violence,” says Sidney Jones, a senior analyst focused on terrorism issues at the International Crisis Group and leading authority on Islamist militants in Indonesia.

Embattled reputation for pluralism

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