Ismira Lutfia & Wisnu Cipto
The Indonesian Council of Ulema (MUI) repeated its call on Wednesday for Muslims not to be provoked by the anti-Islam movie “Innocence of Muslims,” following violent protests against the movie in front of the US Embassy in Jakarta on Monday.
“Muslims should not respond to the movie emotionally. Even if it humiliates and assaults [Islam], we shouldn’t be provoked by other parties and should keep protecting the public interest,” the head of the MUI’s cooperation and international relations division, Muhyiddin Junaidi, told a press conference at MUI headquarters in Jakarta.
“Once we get provoked, some people will clap their hands as they manage to achieve their aim of creating havoc [among Muslims] and dividing us,” he added.
MUI spokesman Sinansari Ecip, meanwhile, reminded Muslim groups that engaging in violent actions would only taint the image of Islam and Muslims in general, saying: “Violence and anarchy are not part of Islamic teachings.”
The MUI also threw its support behind President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s call for an international protocol against religious defamation, saying such a tool is necessary to maintain religious harmony among different religious believers.
Yudhoyono proposed the idea to the Organization of the Islamic Conference and the United Nations on Monday, in response to the contentious anti-Islam movie and violent reactions to it in some Muslim countries.
“It is to ensure there will no longer be grounds to make or circulate such movies. The gesture is completely OK and deserves appreciation. As the world’s most populous Muslim nation, Indonesia needs to take the lead to campaign [for the protocol] in OIC and UN forums,” Muhyiddin said.
The MUI made the statements on the same day that firebrand cleric and terrorist convict Abu Bakar Bashir said Indonesian Muslims should follow the example of Libyan militants who attacked a US Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, killing four Americans, including the ambassador, in the process.
“What happened in Libya can be imitated,” Bashir told the Islamic Indonesian news site voa-islam.com from his jail cell. “If it is defaming God and the Prophet [Muhammad], the punishment should be death. [There are] no other considerations.”
Just two days ago on Monday, a protest against the anti-Islam movie in front of the US Embassy in Jakarta turned violent, with protesters hurling Molotov cocktails toward police and police retaliating with tear gas and water canons. Seven police officers and several protesters were injured in the altercation.
Police arrested four protesters but released them on Tuesday, citing a lack of evidence.
The protest was staged by hundreds of members from hard-line groups the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) and the Islamic People Forum (FUI), among others.