National Police Chief General Timur Pradopo’s proposal to relocate a Shiite community that has sought shelter following an attack in their home village prompted criticism from a senator on Tuesday.
“The idea of relocating a minority group does not bode well for the future of national integration in Indonesia. This proposal could result in blatant marginalization and would be very harmful to the groups involved,” Hajriyanto Thohari, the deputy chairman of the People’s Consultative Assembly, said in a short SMS.
He said such relocation would be tantamount to segregation based on faith or religion.
“How could it be that in a country based on the tolerant and egalitarian principles of Pancasila that such a discriminatory relocation program could take place?” Hajriyanto, who hails from the Golkar Party, asked.
Timur, during a hearing with House Commission III, said that the displaced Shiite community was currently being sheltered at a sports stadium in Sampang in Madura, East Java, and that they should be resettled elsewhere.
Hajriyanto suggested that what is needed is firm law enforcement that protects citizens, including members of minority groups.
The police, he said, needed to be familiarized with the concept of national integration, an idea that does not recognize the dichotomy between the majority and minorities.
Last month, a mob of some 500 Sunni Muslims attacked Nangkernang, a village inhabited by a Shiite community in the sub-district of Omben in Sampang. Two Shiites were killed, while dozens of others were injured, including seven that are still in critical condition, according to the latest reports.
The attackers also set dozens of houses on fire. Police have been criticized for their failure to safeguard the Shiites despite rumors circulating of the impending attack against them before it occurred.