The motives of Pasukan Berani Mati (“suicide troops,” according to the article) and exactly what was the last straw among the many crimes of the Islamic Defenders Front are not clear, but any pressure on the government to ban the group is good news for Muslims and non-Muslims alike in Indonesia. Now, will the Defenders attempt break up this march like the last one? “Indonesia: Muslims to march against radical Islamic group,” from Adnkronos International, June 10:
Jakarta, 9 June (AKI) – Muslims in Indonesia have vowed to take to the streets of the capital Jakarta if the government does not ban the radical Islamic Defenders Front or FPI.
“Ten thousand militants are ready to march in Jakarta if the government does not impose a ban on the Islamic Defenders Front,” said Ayub Junaidi, the coodinator of the militia group, Pasukan Berani Mati, in an interview with Adnkronos International (AKI).
Members of the PBM are currently gathering in East Java.
Established in 1998, the hardline FPI is known for attacking bars and clubs during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.
On 1 June, the FPI was accused of having attacked a group that was rallying in support in of religious tolerance.
Some of its members were arrested, but many, including Junaidi, have called for the FPI to be banned.
Junaidi said that “the militia is made up of diverse groups of about 300 men each and all of them will be trained in such a way as to deal with the worse possible situations whether physically or mentally.”
The militants are members of groups associated with the Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), Indonesia’s largest moderate Muslim organisation and the National Awakening Party (PKB), the party which represents the organisation.
The militants are gathering in the district of Jember in East Java, together with martial arts instructors and experts in the use of machetes and batons.
“We do not want to use violence, but if the FPI uses violence and the government does not act, then we are forced to do the same,” said Junaidi.
The Pasukan Berani Mati, which literally means “troops ready to die” or “suicide troops” assembled for the first time in 2000, when the patron of the Nahdlatul Ulama, Abdurrahman “Gus Dur” Wahid, was Indonesia’s president and various groups were pressurising him to resign.
In that case, the militia came together as the security apparatus for the president.
According to a report on The Jakarta Post newspaper, another anti-FPI militia group led by Muslim cleric, Nuril Arifin Husein, is training in Semarang in Central Java.
However no details were provided about the make-up or orientation of this group.
Last week, Tatang Hidayat, the leader of a Muslim youth group, Gerakan Pemuda Ansor Banser, told AKI that the group “was ready to help the police against the FPI” but that this did not mean that ” they were ready to fight.”
The Gerakan Pemuda Ansor Banser is one of the paramilitary wings of the Nahdlatul Ulama.