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Indonesian gov't blamed for rash of vigilante attacks

Publication Date : 08-05-2012


The involvement of the hard-line group, the Islam Defenders Front (FPI), in multiple violent vigilante actions shows how the Inbdonesian government cannot run the country, a top criminologist says.

"The Regional Administration Law clearly stipulates that the Home Ministry and the National Police must manage and monitor mass organisations,” University of Indonesia criminologist Bambang Widodo Umar told The Jakarta Post on Monday.

Both state institutions should be held responsible for the unchecked violence perpetrated by vigilante groups, he added.

Bambang said that President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono should be confronted publicly about his confusing stance on mass organisations, adding that Yudhoyono had done little to enforce the law against illegal actions perpetrated by groups such as the FPI.

In the latest incident involving Muslim hard-line groups, several Islamic organisations reportedly threatened to use force to close the Catholic pilgrimage complex in Gedangsari, Gunung Kidul, in Yogyakarta for its alleged use by Christians for proselytisation.

More than 100 police officers from Klaten, Central Java, were deployed to safeguard the house of a priest in the nearby town of Wedi, whose parish manages the pilgrimage site.

"We were informed that these organisations wanted to come here and show their anger. That’s why 100 police officers guarded us. But it turns out that nothing happened,” said the priest, who declined to be identified for fear of reprisals.

The priest said that the problem began two months ago during a meeting of religious leaders in Gunung Kidul, when Muslims asked if the pilgrimage site was built without a permit.

The priest said that he told the people at the meeting that the church had been waiting for a permit to be issued for three months. “However, all of a sudden, an issue was raised that the site was being used as a proselytisation camp.”

A public sermon was organised by nearly a dozen Islamic groups near the site on Sunday, the priest said.

People speaking at the sermon told the crowd that the truth about the proselytisation rumors had to be determined, the priest said.

Ten representatives were then sent to “inspect” the site, he added.

Separately, Yogyakarta Police spokeswoman Adj. Sr. Comr. Anny Pudjiastuti confirmed that a public sermon had been organised near Gedangsari by the Indonesian Mujahideen Council (MMI); the FPI; and Kokam, the youth wing of Muhammadiyah; among others.

Pudjiastuti said the police had not received reports of proselytisation or of attempts by vigilantes to seal off the site.

FPI leaders have declined to comment on whether the FPI participated in the sermon.

Munarman, a coordinator for the Islamic Defenders Legion (LPI), an FPI affiliate, said that he was in the dark about the issue.

On Sunday, an LPI member was killed in a brawl with local residents in Bogor. Also on Sunday, FPI members allegedly prevented the congregation of the Filadelfia Batak Protestant Union (HKBP) Church in Tambun, Bekasi, from conducting services.

Members of the FPI also allegedly assaulted Tantowi Anwari, an activist from the Association of Journalists for Diversity (Sejuk), for wearing a T-shirt defending the churchgoers.


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