N. Mark Castro
First they came for the communists, and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a communist.
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a Jew.
Then they came for me and there was no one left to speak out for me.
- Martin Niemoller
In an obscene display of religious arrogance, the Islamic Defenders Force (LPI), which is a unit of the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI), attacked the Indonesian Ahmadiyah Congregation (JAI) secretariat in Makassar, South Sulawesi. The LPI smashed several windows at the JAI complex, including its mosque, and damaged a car and motorcycle parked in the compound.
Several days earlier in Makassar about 50 FPI members convoyed through the streets looking for open restaurants and food stalls shortly after Friday prayers.
They forced three restaurants on Jalan Pettarani to close, and made the owners sign written statements promising that they would not operate during daylight hours for the remainder of the fasting month.
On Jalan Boulevard and Jalan Pengayoman, the group stopped at meatball stalls and coffee shops. At one business, they smashed furniture and crockery when the owner refused to close.
As the Chinese say, “May you live in interesting times.”
I most certainly do.
I live among the largest Muslim population on earth, while coming from the largest Christian population in Asia. If reports are credible, both countries are also the most corrupt in the world.
But what I do know are the events I have witnessed in the name of religion. The FPI, for instance, wields much more power than the police, military and the government combined.
They have freely, successfully and systemically attacked groups and establishments they deem immoral. They do not need evidence. They read it in the Koran. They are doing God’s work. They have attacked supporters of the country’s essential theme, which is Pancasila, the Five Principles. Their leader was jailed for 18 months.
In Bekasi, a suburb outside of Jakarta, a stick-wielding mob of FPI members attacked and beat members of the Batak Christian Protestant Church for praying and gathering without the proper license, they said. The leader of the Batak Christian Protestant Church was beaten and stabbed nearly to death. The FPI leader caught for spreading the hate speech, instigating its members to commit the violent crimes in full of view of the police, received a sentence of six months.
In a related story, the Bogor administration continues to deny access to a church, despite the ruling of the Supreme Court of the Republic of Indonesia to unlock it. The mayor has alleged that the signatures gathered by the church to construct its house of worship were fraudulently acquired, yet offered no evidence whatsoever to support his claim, nor has he filed any case-review appeals to the Supreme Court.
He just continues – and successfully – to ignore its decision.
Not a single police officer, lawmaker, politician (elected or appointed), spiritual leader or even the president finds this as an attack against the Constitution, the government and the courts.
In a country where the justice and human rights minister cannot define the difference between bribery and corruption, no one finds this an act of treason.
And last Sunday, a brutal lynching of an Islamic sect left the country with another stigma on its dying principle of pluralism. The Jakarta Globe did not report where the police were during the attack, particularly with such a large number of people roaming freely about the city.
The Ahmadiyah sect, which counts as many as half a million followers, is seen by mainstream Muslims as heretic, as it believes Indian preacher Mirza Ghulam Ahmad – and not Muhammad – was Islam’s final prophet.
Adj. Sr. Comr. Himawan Sugeha, the Makassar Police chief of detectives, said that Abdurrahman, the head of the Islamic Defenders Force, had been arrested and would be charged with incitement to violence for the early morning attack on the Indonesian Ahmadiyah Congregation.
“Abdurrahman himself didn’t take part in the vandalism, but he incited it, for which he could face up to six years in prison,” Himawan said.
Some big words to counter anarchy.
That’s how the police protect and serve their fellow citizens. Maybe it will go away. As soon as they find the perpetrators among those standing right before their eyes.