Indonesia: Laskar Jihad Call for [No] Respect for Ramadhan
November 30, 2001
Jubilee Campaign - http://www.jubileecampaign.org/
The Muslim community in Indonesia and throughout the world, including in America,
called for America to halt the bombing of the Taliban during the fasting month of
Ramadhan. The month of Ramadhan is supposed to be a time for peace and deep
reflection with Allah. Yet the citizens of Indonesia face a very different reality when it
comes to Ramadhan year after year. Despite the fact that there are many Muslims
who truly want to celebrate Ramadhan peacefully, Ramadhan in Indonesia is also
used as a time to terrorize people.
In Jakarta, for example, 1000 people from FPI (Islamic Defenders Front) swept several
places in Jakarta to try to "take care" of those who disgrace the time of Ramadhan.
The terrorization is far more real for people in Poso, in the central part of the island of
Sulawesi. For the past three days, Laskar Jihad has continued their heavy assaults
against the local people in that area. Thus Laskar Jihad itself has shown no respect at
all for peace during Ramadhan. Following this article is an on-site report from GKST
(www.gkst.org) detailing some of the assaults.
There has been a very confusing political indecisiveness on the part of the Indonesian
security forces. For example, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (the Indonesian Minister
for Security and Politics) mentioned, in a meeting with the Indonesian Council of
Churches, that the presence of Laskar Jihad is needed in Poso and Maluku due to
fear of attack by Christians on the local Muslim communities there. Such an absurd
notion from the Indonesian Minister for Security and Politics indicates alarming
confusion by even the top Indonesian leadership in its efforts, or lack thereof, in
handling conflicts such as in Poso, even after the conflict has been going on for
several years now and the damages are nearing the point of becoming beyond repair.
Then this week Yudhoyono evidenced a slight shift in his stance by making another
statement (as cited in the Suara Pembaruan Daily on Nov 29, 2001) that the
perpetrators in Poso will be dealt with. This statement must be understood in the
context that justice has not been meted out even-handedly in the region, where for
example a Christian caught with a machete went to prison for several years while a
member of Laskar Jihad with an AK-47 served only 7 months.
Furthermore, the head of the Central Sulawesi police, Agus Sugianto, indicated that
there are adequate police to handle the conflict and hence no need for additional
forces. Yet according to International Christian Concern (ICC), based on their very
recent fact-finding trip to Poso, there are approximately 15 thousand Laskar Jihad in
the Poso area, and they are heavily armed. Meanwhile, again according to ICC, in the
Poso region there are only 35 policemen with 3 rifles trying to provide security for 63
thousand people to keep them from being attacked by the 15 thousand members of
Laskar Jihad, who have already demonstrated their intent to "cleanse" Christians area
Decisive action needs to be taken in Poso immediately, especially after the indecisive
attitudes revealed by Yudhoyono combined with the incapability of the regional police
to handle the conflict despite whatever they may be saying. There have been several
references in various media about the links between certain extremist groups in
Indonesia and Al Qaeda. Ongoing terrorist-style behavior by the Laskar Jihad only
strengthens the perception of such a link between Indonesian religious extremists and
the worldwide terrorist network.
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