One police chief assured the media yesterday that the rampages against Christian buildings and the beating of a priest had nothing to do with religion. And there are others like him, and worse. “Yudhoyono orders crackdown but officials drag their feet,” by Mathias Hariyadi for AsiaNews, February 11:
Jakarta (AsiaNews) – Indonesian police arrested 13 people in connection with a series of recent confessional acts of violence that left three Ahmadi Muslims dead and three churches destroyed. President Susilo Bambang Yudoyono announced a crackdown against fundamentalist groups, who must be disbanded to prevent further sectarian attacks. Civil society groups have welcomed the president’s statement, but government officials and local authorities warn it will be hard to wipe out terrorist groups.
Police arrested five people involved in the murder of three members of the Ahmadi Muslim sect, deemed heretical my [sic] mainstream Muslims because it does not view Muhammad as the last prophet.
The attack took place last Sunday in West Java. Police were able to identify the attackers thanks to video that eventually found its way on the Internet. Banten Police spokesperson Gunawan Setiadi told the AFP that more arrests would follow thanks to images released on YouTube.
The man who shot the video fears for his life, and has gone into hiding.
Two days later, fundamentalists targeted the Christian community in Temanggung (central Java). Police arrested eight people involved in the attack against three churches, an orphanage and Christian centre. A mob of about a thousand people attacked Christians and their property because of a case of alleged blasphemy involving a young man who was sentenced to five years in prison.
These incidents have called attention to enough instability in the country to rattle Yudhoyono into taking some action.
Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono told local officials and authorities to clamp down on fundamentalists and stop sectarian violence. However, this will be hard to do because many top officials and ministers are dragging their feet on the matter.
On national press day in Kupang, the president issued orders to disband a number of notorious extremist groups. “Legal authorities should have the courage to disband public group or mass organisations which have repeatedly conducted or even suggested violence,” the president said. Local authorities and security officials should do their duty, he insisted.
It is a weakened leader who suggests to authorities below him what they ought to do.
Civil society groups have welcomed the president’s announcement. However, scepticism remains strong because of obstacles on the path of implementing presidential orders.
Home Affairs Minister Gamawan Fauzi said for example that dismantling such groups will not be an easy task.
Police chief General Timnor Pradopo, an acknowledged sympathiser of some extremist groups like the Islamic Defender Front (FPI), said that he will need evidence and facts of misbehaviour before taking action.
Even lawmakers, including some from the Democrat Party and United Development Party, blame Ahmadis for their predicament, saying that they must repent and acknowledge their errors. They also want the sect to be eliminated.