Calls for Jihad, Purges Emerge at Hate-Filled Anti-Shiite Gathering in Indonesia

This picture taken on November 30, 2012, shows Indonesian Muslim Shiites at a temporary shelter in Sampang. (AFP Photo/Adek Berry)

This picture taken on November 30, 2012, shows Indonesian Muslim Shiites at a temporary shelter in Sampang. (AFP Photo/Adek Berry)

Bandung. A planned declaration in Bandung to denounce the Shiite community turned into a fiery call for jihad, or holy war, against the much-maligned minority group.

Thousands of people showed up for the event on Sunday hosted by the Anti-Shia Alliance, a gathering of hard-line Sunni Muslim organizations.

Ahmad bin Zein Al Kaff, the head of one of those organizations, the Anti-Heresy Front, said that Indonesia must be cleansed of Shiite teaching to prevent sectarian strife between Shiites and Sunnis — all the while inciting violence against Shiites.

“It’s time that we declared jihad against them,” he said in an impassioned speech to the crowd gathered at Bandung’s Al Fajar Mosque.

“We should not tolerate them any more because we can’t hold any more dialogues with them.”

West Java Governor Ahmad Heryawan, who has made no secret of his distaste for minority religious groups, was expected to attend the declaration but stayed away at the last minute, instead sending his assistant for welfare, Ahmad Hadadi, who expressed support for the alliance’s cause.

Also in attendance was Ahmad Cholil Ridwan, a leader of the Indonesian Council of Ulema, or MUI, the highest Islamic authority in the country and ostensibly a moderate body.

Cholil’s message on the day, however, was anything but moderate as he called for a “purge” of the Shiites.

“As long as we [Islamic parties] are not in power, we will never be able to purge the Shiites,” he said.

“We need to strengthen our political base. The ruling coalition must be controlled by Islamic parties.”

The declaration itself called for “preventive and anticipative” action to deal with the “Shiite threat,” which observers say amounts to unprovoked attacks on Shiite communities in West Java and elsewhere, which continue to be carried out by hard-line groups like the Islamic Defenders Front, or FPI.

FPI members were present at Sunday’s gathering, dressed in black ski masks and camouflage jackets stencilled with “Heresy Hunters.”

Prior to the declaration, the West Java chapter of the Association of Jamaah Ahlul Bait Indonesia (IJABI), an umbrella group for Shiite organizations, had requested that the police not allow the gathering, on the grounds that it would incite hatred — a crime under Indonesian law.

“The police should take the necessary steps because this event will spread hatred and could invoke violence,” said Hesti Rahardja, the IJABI West Java chairwoman.

However, rather than preventing the gathering, the police deployed dozens of officers to secure the event.

“We respect freedom of expression. But we have to be careful because the presidential election is approaching,” Hesti said.

Bantarto Bandoro, a defense and security expert at the Indonesian Defense University, said it was precisely because of the upcoming election that the alliance had chosen this moment to call for the eradication of the Shiite faith from Indonesia.

“They perceive themselves as representing the majority. So they think that if any politician wants to become president, they must listen to their demands,” he said.

This was borne out in the message to the crowd from Muhammad Al Khaththath, the secretary general of the Indonesian Ulema and Congregation Forum, or FUUI, which in 2012 issued a call to build “anti-Shiite posts” to protect the Sunni faithful.

“The presidential election must be used as a momentum,” Al Khaththath said on Sunday.

“We will support any candidate who wants to make an MOU to purge the Shiites from Indonesia. If Prabowo [Subianto] is ready to do that. he will become the president,” he added, referring to the candidate from the Great Indonesia Movement Party, or Gerindra.

Bantarto urged President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to quickly take action to prevent he spread of the hate speech and protect Shiite communities from attacks.

“The conflict between Sunni and Shiite, which started in the Middle East, has arrived in Indonesia. We must not let ourselves be consumed by this conflict as we risk our own plurality and our unity as a nation. It will be a long and bloody conflict if we fall into the trap,” he warned.

  • Dirk

    “Tu quoque” fallacy, irrelevant.

    • The Hangman

      Not at all! Because any posting on this topic that refuses to
      acknowledge that religious atrocities are present in all religions and
      are cyclical is narrow and parochial. It is about discourses of power. What are the common factors and how have people
      in the past resolved their differences? These are some of the important questions!

  • Dirk

    There was no House of Saud in the 15th-16th centuries. You fail again.

    • The Hangman

      I generalised. Specifically,
      the mid east muslims particularly from Mecca and Egypt sought the advice
      and religious opinion of the Pasai ulama at one time for many years
      before the Dutch invaded and the centre of South East asia muslim
      influence moved to what is now called Malaysia.

  • Blade

    Hitler is still alive i guess

  • Blade

    All under the watch of SBY…oh I forgot SBy doesn’t read JG so head in the sand continues..

  • RogerD

    Hear hear Maurice!

    • The Hangman

      Please don’t encourage the haters!

  • The Hangman

    Civil war?! Give me strength from the rantings of the touched!

  • The Hangman

    “…those who have seen this happen elsewhere, and are trying to alert moderate people to the danger…” who is referring to the relevance of history now? Your hypocrisy beggars belief!

  • The Hangman

    You want my opinion? You can’t handle my opinion! My epistemological framework on this issue is influenced heavily from a Nietzschean perspective. God (ipso facto religion) is not about truth but is a mode of power. God is force and power over people. Which is exactly what the major theme behind this article is about. However, I am confident that in Indonesia’s trajectory toward sustainable development, the moderates shall prevail as is always the case throughout history ultimately. The purpose now is to identify the levers of change within the current climate and attempt to prevent further perversion of the good! in this case, why is secondary to how

  • The Hangman

    Not being in possession of a perspective from a grander scale limits those people (like you have admitted to) from meaningful contribution.
    Referring to your points, there is no nihilism in the current strains of islamic
    terrorism as there are grand plans to construct a pan islamic nation!
    This is constructive albeit irrational in many ways. Finally, your doomsday proselytizing is laughable! Moderate muslims will
    overcome the virulent strains. Remember, we are emerging from years of
    strong autocratic rulers. Change takes generations. We will do it at our
    pace and in our style. Not to some template or timeline of another’s
    choosing!

  • The Hangman

    This tangential and oblique commentary that you have provided nullifies itself!

  • The Hangman

    Decrying our intelligence might sting were it not followed by quasi eschatological rants!

  • The Hangman

    Here are some counter arguments you requested! These arguments you provide here are based on generalizations and
    sweeping statements. You seem to point to an organized and coordinated
    group which is seeking to systematically pevert indonesian politics and
    is doing so with ease and impunity! How does this not seem like thinking affected by heatstroke?

  • joyoboyo

    There are approx. 1 million Shia Muslims in Indonesia. (about the size of Bogor). Why is this group such a threat? It’s embarrassing and pathetic, (and unconstitional), to persecute them – please rise above this petty BS. The sons and daughters of Indonesia -and the world, deserve better.

  • Jan

    Nothing you can do about it. It’s genetic.