Two weeks ago, a Muslim died in a traffic accident. Around the time of his funeral, a rumor spread via text message that he was tortured to death by Christians, sparking a wave of violence and incitement to further attacks against Christians. Whatever the group and the motive, an official hands-off approach (at best) to Muslim persecution of non-Muslims in Indonesia has enabled and encouraged more of the same.
The suicide bombing that killed at least one person and injured 20 at a church in Solo on Sunday may be linked to the recent sectarian violence that broke out in Ambon on Sept. 11, a police source said.
“Early analysis of the motive of the bomber links him to Ambon and the culprit will not be far from radical groups. It’s revenge. The motive of course can only be confirmed when the network is revealed,” a member of the anti-terror squad Densus 88 told the Jakarta Globe under condition of anonymity.
The recent clash in Ambon was sparked by rumors that spiraled out of control after a motorcycle taxi driver suffered a fatal traffic accident.
The driver died from his injuries on his way to the hospital, but a viral SMS fueled false reports that the driver had been tortured and killed by Christians. That prompted a violent clash between two groups that left at least seven dead and prompted law enforcement to question anyone trying to enter the city.
A provocative text message also began circulating in East Java urging Muslims to go to Ambon to wage jihad.
Ali Fauzi, a self-confessed jihadist in Ambon and the younger brother of convicted Bali bombers Amrozi, Ali Imron and Ali Ghufron, agreed that the bombing in Solo was prompted by the Ambon violence.
“I feel that it is so,” he said….
More on the bombing, and the bomber: “Suicide bombing at Indonesian church injures 22,” by Slamet Riyadi for the Associated Press, September 25:
SOLO, Indonesia (AP) “” A suicide bomber blew himself up inside an Indonesian church as hundreds of worshippers were filing out after the Sunday service, injuring at least 22 people, police said.
The bomber’s mangled body lay at the entrance of the Tenth Bethel Gospel Church. Around him, screaming people were splattered in blood.
Police Chief Gen. Timur Pradopo said the low-intensity device appeared to be attached to the man’s stomach.
“We are now waiting for DNA test results to confirm his identity,” Pradopo said. “We hope to reveal it soon.”
A woman working at an Internet cafe near the church in the Central Java town of Solo said the man had visited her shop an hour before the explosion and browsed websites about al-Qaida and a local Islamist group.
He left a bag behind containing a copy of the Quran, a mask and a cellphone charger, Rina Ristriningsih told The Associated Press. She said all of the items had been confiscated by police. […]
It appeared that the bomber entered the church through a side door, mingled with worshippers, and then, when the service was over, headed out with them.
He detonated his device near the entrance, killing himself and wounding at least 22 people, said Pradopo, the police chief.
“Everyone was screaming,” Fani, a witness, told Metro TV. Like many Indonesians she goes by only one name.
“I saw fiery sparks and, near the entrance, a man dead on the ground, his entrails spilling out. People around him were splattered with blood.”
Members of the congregation said they did not recognize the bomber.
“He walked about 4 meters (yards) behind me,” Abraham, who attended the service, told El Shinta radio. “I believe he was disguised as a churchgoer.”
“War is deceit,” Muhammad said.
Critics say President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, who relies heavily on Islamic parties in parliament, has remained largely silent as minorities have been attacked by hard-liners or seen their houses of worship torched or closed.
However, he was quick to speak out after Sunday’s attack.
“Whoever is behind such violence has to be arrested,” he said, adding that neither religious nor ethnic differences can justify such actions. “Crime is crime, terrorism is terrorism.”
Jihad is jihad. But he can’t say that, of course.