IBRAHIM ISA'S – FOCUS
REACTION ON INDONESIAN CHURCH BOMBING
SUICIDE BOMBING, LIP SERVICE AND PUBLIC DISCOURSE
Khairil Azhar, Jakarta | Tue, 09/27/2011
As sympathies and blame are expressed after the suicide bombing at the GBIS church in Surakarta, Central Java, on Sunday, we are convinced that the incident will not be the last.
However bitter the experience might be, our minds should now be accustomed to knowing that both sanity and insanity can still be seen in front of us.
The bombing must be understood in its proper context, beyond accusations of cowardice and the lip-service response given by the President.
The people need real guarantees of security instead of promises. The value of the National Police’s Detachment 88 and other counterterrorism units are questionable, as they are running behind most of the bombings.
We cannot directly accuse or scapegoat any religious group, since that might prejudiced. Other cases — in Europe, for instance — have shown us that violent radicalism is ubiquitous. It is not simply Islamists versus the world. The existence of hard-liners or opportunist groups must be taken into account in three steps.
First, campaigns against terrorism have never been a massive thing culturally. Religious leaders appear on TV screens immediately after bombings, as do politicians and governmental functionaries. However, one week later, as the situation calms down, there is another topic under discussion in the news.
Our present culture is overwhelmed by image. Appearing before a gathering is more important than doing something great behind the scenes. Following words with action is not a part of the culture.
Meanwhile, there is no cultural traditional that can penetrate the zeitgeist, other than intellectuals who espouse anti-terrorist values.
Couldn’t we watch, for instance, a soap opera that makes an effort to depict a harmonious Indonesian system of values in the name of religious diversity? Is there an anti-terrorism curriculum at schools? Can an Indonesian play depicting religious-cultural tragedy be staged for the public with a guarantee that the playwright and actors not be imprisoned?
Second, political expediency has made real freedom a luxury in Indonesia. Conflicts are inevitable.
The central government, for example, which has made numerous concessions for political gain, has allowed some regencies and provinces to enact religious laws that contradict the Constitution, universal human rights and other adherents of Islam who follow different schools of thought.
We don’t even know which ministers are anti-radical or anti-terrorist. The Religious Affairs Minister, for example, has conveyed support for radicalism and the unfair treatment of non-Muslims or non-mainstream Muslims since he took office. Just do a Google search and see for yourself.
Expediency has created uncertainty, a fragile situation that gives terrorists exactly what they are actually looking for. Large numbers can be mobilized for protests or, more importantly, to secure support. Opportunist politicians can persuade listeners to vote for them without realizing the impact of their fiery rhetoric on society as a whole.
And there is a domino effect. A region dominated by a majority can be misled into creating a tyranny of majority after seeing the success of another region. The despondent minority will choose to remain calm or might resist in their own way.
Most obviously, political expediency has constructed or cemented a principle: Terrorist radicalism survives despite continued efforts to abolish it. Through careful planning, bombing perpetrators can avoid any detection of their activities.
Third, the rhetoric and policies of state officials, supported by pro-government pundits, have confused the public. Instead of making an official apology for being unable to assure public security, for instance, they continually search for scapegoats.
The public has been taught to remain silent and act as if there were nothing to worry about.
It is time for public officials to stop their old approaches to terrorism. They have to stop the violence soon or chaos will take place again and again.
For us, the common people let’s tell our children or spouse, if they are in front of a TV, that killing somebody or destroying something is never religious. Let’s tell our colleagues at a cafe or work that ruining a house is much easier than building it.
At least it’s better than the empty rhetoric voiced by political clowns in the months before the general election.
The Jakarta Post | Wed, 09/28/2011
National Police spokesman Brig. Gen. I Ketut Yoga Ana on Tuesday said the suspected suicide bomber at Sepenuh Injil Bethel Church in Surakarta, Central Java, was linked to hardline cleric Abu Bakar Ba'asyir of the Jamaah Ansharut Tauhid (JAT) extremist group.
"The perpetrator was indoctrinated directly by ABB [Abu Bakar Ba'asyir]," Ketut said Tuesday.
He added that the group that the bomber, Pino Damayanto (aka "Achmad Yosepa Hayat"), belonged to had grown stronger since they gave their oath of allegiance to Ba'asyir, who currently serving a prison sentence for terrorism.
JAT spokesman Abdurrochim Ba'asyir confirmed that Pino had taken part in prayers held by JAT's Cirebon branch, although the branch has not been active for the past year.
Meanwhile, a source close to Ba'asyir, Hasyim Abdullah, denied that Ba'asyir knew Pino.
"Information from the National Police headquarters saying that [Ba'asyir] knew Syarif is not true," he said Tuesday as reported by tempointeraktif.com.
"It is not true that [Ba'asyir] swore in Hayat," he added.
Sep 28, 2011
CHURCCH BOMB SHOWS INDONESIAN EXTREMISM
By Gary LaMoshi
BALI - Indonesia was shocked and shamed on Sunday when a suicide bomber
struck a Christian church in Solo, killing at least one congregant and
injuring at least 27 others. But the reaction from President Susilo Bambang
Yudhoyono has been even more shameful.
On Sunday morning, a still unidentified bomber detonated explosives at the
entrance of Gereja Bethel Injil Sepenuh (Bethel Whole Gospel Church, GBIS)
at the conclusion of the church's second service. Police say it was a low
explosive device spiked with nails and bolts that aimed to harm people
rather than destroy property.
Solo, also known as Surakarta, is considered a wellspring of Javanese
culture and more recently a hub for Islamic extremism. Militant preacher Abu
Bakar Ba'asyir, the jailed spiritual leader of the terrorist Jemaah
Islamiyah movement, and his Ngruki Islamic boarding school, a hub for
planning the 2002 Bali bombing, are based in the town. Solo has also served
as a hideout for a number of radical Islamist fugitives, including master
bomber Noordin Mohammad Top. Several churches were burned in Central Java
earlier this year.
In the face of the latest evidence of growing religious intolerance, in his
elevised speech on Sunday night Yudhoyono used the incident to lobby for
passage of controversial amendments to Indonesia's anti-terrorism act. The
new provisions would allow police and intelligence authorities to begi sveillance operations against anyone without evidence, measures that critics say hearken back to former General Suharto's authoritarian rule. In
the wake of the Solo bombing, legislators reported a breakthrough on the
bill late Monday night.
"There are fears that it is excessive, but we have to learn from our past,"
Yudhoyono said, referring to the legislation. "I hope that in future life
can return to normal and people won't be afraid or overly worried, as long
as we can pull together in facing down violence."
Not a hate crime
He asserted that the church bombing was linked, not to a wave of sectarian
strife that has intensified in recent months, but to a national terrorist
network. That network was supposedly behind the April suicide bombing in
Cirebon, West Java, of a police station mosque that injured 30, all but two
of them police officers. Yudhoyono declared, "Crime is crime and terrorism
is terrorism. It does not relate to ethnicity or religion."
Instead of looking away from Indonesia's growing sectarian violence, the
once-popular president would have been better advised to meet it head on.
Even in the highly unlikely event that the Solo bombings have nothing to do
with religious extremism, Yudhoyono nevertheless could have used the
occasion to fight it. Within an hour of hearing of the bombing, Yudhoyono
could have been on a plane to Solo with leaders of Nahdlatul Ulama and
Muhammadiyah, the country's two largest mainstream mass Muslim
organizations, other religious leaders and heads of political parties to
visit the victims of the bombing in the hospital.
After commiserating with the victims, comforting their families, and
encouraging the police to get to the bottom of the crime, these national
leaders could have presented a united front condemning the attack. Moreover,
they could have reiterated they stand by Indonesia's constitutional
protection of religious freedom and assured the public that the state will
take all necessary steps to guarantee it for all Indonesians regardless of
their faith. While Yudhoyono seems content to ignore the accelerating
erosion of that freedom, Indonesia's recent history shows that religious
strife can also serve as a convenient smokescreen for forces that threaten
freedom for all.
Democracy breeds contempt
Since the end of former dictator Suharto's New Order regime, democracy has
provided an opening for greater Islamization of Indonesia, the country with
the world's largest Muslim population. An estimated 88% of Indonesia's 233
million people follow Islam. That leaves 28 million Indonesians of other
faiths, or as many people as the total populations of Malaysia, Saudi
Arabia, or Australia and New Zealand combined. Minorities are being
marginalized by a combination of violent extremism and politicians that play
the Muslim card to pander to religious hardliners.
As part of the 2005 agreement that ended a decades long civil war in Aceh,
Indonesia's easternmost province was permitted to adopt sharia (Islamic)
law. Indonesia's parliament approved this exception to the national
constitution. However, since 2001, government decentralization measures have
led to some 150 local laws and regulations based on religious teachings,
according to the national newsweekly Tempo. All but a handful are based on
Islamic law, including dress codes, deductions for charitable donations, and
Koran proficiency requirements for civil service promotion or marriage.
The magazine also reported research by Northern Illinois University academic
Michael Buehler showing that the overwhelming majority of these
religion-based ordinances are proposed by politicians from secular parties,
rather than the Islamic parties. That suggests the regulations are more
about electoral politics than piety.
Church is out
Recently, religious intolerance has been on display in several high-profile
incidents. In Bogor, outside Jakarta, Mayor Diani Budiarto revoked the
building permit for the Yasmin Indonesian Christian Church and has, since
January, defied a Supreme Court order to reinstate it.
Instead, Budiarto ordered the building sealed since April, forcing the
congregation to hold services on the sidewalk outside. That's become a
weekly circus featuring hundreds of worshippers, members of the extremist
Islamic Defenders Front (FPI by its Indonesian acronym) taunting and
threatening the Christians, and dozens of police in riot gear with water
cannons separating FPI demonstrators and worshippers.
Last week, the case completed the final phase of its legal enforcement
process, and the mayor's refusal to comply with the Supreme Court ruling is
due to be handed to Yudhoyono for resolution. Budiarto's Democratic Party of
Struggle (PDI-P) has revoked its support for him due to his defiance of the
law, but he retains support from two parties in Yudhoyono's ruling
coalition, the Islamist Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) and Golkar.
Religious extremism doesn't just threaten violence, and Christians aren't
the only victims. When extremism ratchets up in Indonesia, the Ahmadiyah
Muslim splinter sect is a favored target. In western Java's Cikeusik
district, local Muslim preachers and political leaders spent a year stirring
hatred against a community of about two dozen Ahmadis, members of a local
family that converted during the 1990s.
On February 6, a mob of thousands from nearby mosques, pesantren (Islamic
boarding schools), and the surrounding area descended on the Ahmadis to
drive them out of the area. As a token contingent of police and military
stood by, the Ahmadis were beaten, their homes ransacked, and three of them
killed. Last month, a local court sentenced 12 people to three to six month
sentences in the attack, including one Ahmadiyah member.
Blame the victims
Indonesia's National Human Right Commission condemned the police for
allowing, if not condoning, the attack. The commission also cited
prosecutors for presenting laughably weak cases against the attackers and
blaming Ahmadiyah followers for provoking the attack by refusing to leave
their homes. Human-rights observers believe the light punishment- with time
already served in pre-trial detention, the longest sentences amounted to a
few days - will encourage more religious extremism.
Earlier this month, seven people died in fighting between Muslims and
Christians in Ambon in Maluku province, provoked by text messages falsely
implicating a Christian in the death of a Muslim in a traffic accident. The
incident evoked the extreme sectarian strife that begin in late 1999 in the
area once known as the Spice Islands.
Over the next two years, about 10,000 people died in sectarian clashes.
Indonesia's military helped fuel the conflict, supplying weapons to both
sides and transporting jihadis from Java to join the fighting.
The military stoked the religious conflict in Ambon and similar fighting in
Central Sulawesi as part of its effort to undermine then President
Abdurrahman Wahid's reformist regime. Wahid sought to curb the power of the
military that had been at the center of Suharto's 32 years of iron-fisted
rule and operated with impunity. After a dozen years of democracy, the
military has moved to the sidelines but still operates largely without
meaningful civilian oversight.
With a current presidential leadership vacuum and a successor not due until
2014, sectarian strife presents an opportunity for extremists from all sides
to fill the void and manipulate the public. It's up to the champions of
freedom and tolerance, and its primary beneficiaries including Yudhoyono and
than chaos and death, as seen most recently in Solo on Sunday.
LaMoshihas written for Slate and Salon.com, and works an adviser to Writing
Camp. He first visited Indonesia in 1994 and hatracking its progress ever since.>>
(Copyright 2011 Asia Times Online (Holdings)