IBRAHIM ISA'S – FOCUS
WEDNESDAY, 28 September, 2011
REACTION ON INDONESIAN CHURCH BOMBING
--- Terror threat is real
--- Suicide bombing, lip service and the public discourse
--- Police link Solo bomber with Ba'asyir
--- Church bomb shows Indonesian extremism
* * *
TERROR THREAT IS REAL
Editorial:The Jakarta Post | Tue, 09/27/2011
The suicide bomb attack on the Sepenuh Injil Bethel Church (GBIS) in
Surakarta, Central Java, on Sunday shocked the nation. It was the fourth
bomb explosion in Indonesia this year.
The bombing, as in the previous instances, was relatively small in
extent if we observe its impact on the church building and the number of
victims. One person — believed to be the bomber — was killed and 22
others were injured.
. . . . . .
The bombing incidents apparently shows that Indonesia is still
vulnerable to terrorist threats.
Based on past experience, it is reasonable to assume that the explosion
in Surakarta might not be the last. It is extremely urgent for all of
us, not only for the National Police and security agencies, to
anticipate and prevent more attacks in the future.
Should the four incidents turn out to be a prelude for future attacks,
it is not impossible for the next incident(s) to be greater in extent
President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and preliminary investigation by the
Police have indicated a possible connection between Sunday’s suicide
attack and the suicide bomber who attacked the police compound in
Cirebon, West Java, in April this year.
“We have found in the preliminary results of our investigation that the
suicide bomber was a member of the Cirebon terrorist network that
carried out a similar terrorist act in Cirebon,” the President said
after a Cabinet meeting at the Presidential Office in Jakarta on Sunday.
. . . . . . .
Hayat was also on the police’s most-wanted list for his alleged
involvement in the Cirebon bombing and the shooting of police officers
in Palu, Central Sulawesi, earlier this year.
It is good to see that the police have worked fast to identify a
possible connection between the perpetrators of previous attacks and the
violence in Surakarta. Still all those measures have yet to prevent such
attacks from happening — a key success indicator for security
institutions, here and elsewhere.
It is true that preventing terrorist attacks is not an easy task to
perform. It requires close cooperation among all elements of the nation
— not just for the forces of law and order.
All energy and resources, including the House’s deliberation on the
intelligence bill — the legal umbrella needed to prevent terror attacks
— must be focused on creating stability and order in the country.
Otherwise, all the upcoming international events here – and the
country’s security image — will be at stake.
Wednesday, September 28, 2011
*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.
POLICE LINK SOLO BOMBER WITH BA'ASYIR
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
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
"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
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 arginalized 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
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
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.
(Copyright 2011 Asia Times Online (Holdings)