Monday, June 28, 2010

Indonesian MPs want vigilante crack down, on Islamic groups calling for 'war' on Christians

Supporters of the hard-line Islamic Defenders Front in Indonesia demand the dissolution of Ahmadiyah, an Islamic sect they believe to be heretical.

After the Islamic Defenders Front protested for days and weeks against the Ahmadiyah, they succeeded in getting their activities restricted. Question is what will their actions against the Christians result in. Everyone seems to be afraid of the big bad Islamic militant in those parts ~ moderation be damned.

Indonesian lawmakers on Monday demanded the government crack down on a violent Islamist vigilante group that has threatened "war" against Christians in Jakarta and urged mosques to set up militia forces.

Parliamentarians from various parties held a press conference to demand the government outlaw the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) - a private militia with a self-appointed mission to protect "Islamic" values in the secular country.

"The only way to stop the FPI from creating anarchy is to ban it. The FPI is not registered as an official group," lawmaker Eva Kusuma Sundari of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle told the news conference.

"The police, military and government should be held responsible for their role in creating the FPI. Now they're incapable in controlling it," she added, referring to the group's origins in a 1990s paramilitary outfit.

The FPI warned Sunday that it was ready to wage war against Christians in the outer Jakarta suburb of Bekasi over claims of "Christianisation" of the mainly Muslim area.

After a meeting of Muslim leaders, FPI extremists urged Bekasi authorities to introduce Islamic sharia law and warned they would attack Christians with sticks, rocks and even flagpoles unless the "Christianisation" ceased.

"We won't disturb the average Christian. But we're against those who preach. If they try to convert Muslims to Christianity through public preaching activities, through lies and manipulation, we'll disperse them," FPI Jakarta branch manager Abdul Qodir Aka told AFP.

"If they stubbornly resist we'll use violence as a last resort," he added.

Indonesia's two mainstream Muslim organisations, Muhammadiyah and Nahdlatul Ulama, also attended Sunday's Islamic forum in Bekasi.

Observers said communal tensions could erupt into violence in Indonesia, a constitutionally secular country of 240 million people, 90 percent of whom are Muslim.

"We cannot afford another religious conflict in our midst after working so hard this past decade to promote Indonesia as a tolerant and moderate country," The Jakarta Globe said in an editorial.

"Bekasi is a litmus test of how the new Indonesia deals with such age-old fissures in our society," the English-language daily said.

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