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Indonesia: When the warning signs of rising fundamentalism were ignored

Friday 20 January 2017, by siawi3

A little bit of history:



May 14, 2013 · 5:31 pm

The Journal of Undergraduate International Studies: “State and Religion in Indonesiaâ€

An interview about the how state and religion interact with each other in Indonesia, and the challenges it brings to atheists living in Indonesia.

On August 17th, 1945, standing atop the steps of his modest verandah, the mononymous Javanese revolutionary Sukarno declared the independence of Indonesia. The announcement signified the belated liberation of the Indonesian islands from over 300 years of Dutch colonial rule and Japanese occupation during World War II. In practice, however, enormous obstacles remained. It would require a long and sanguinary revolution to permanently dispel the Netherlands and attain their official recognition. Further, internal Communist and Islamic movements compounded the difficulty of uniting the world’s largest archipelago. As the New York Times’ editorial board wrote on November 15th, 1946 [italics added]: “Japan’s ‘Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere’ has collapsed, but a new one, along democratic lines, may rise. This is the beginning of a future the end of which is veiled.†The prescience of this final word was, perhaps, more accurate than the editors intended.

Fast-forward to today, near the 68th anniversary of Indonesian independence, and one finds a nation of contrast. Despite that the 1945 Constitution guaranteed to all citizens the right to practice their religion, the Islamic Defenders’ Front (FPI) raids food outlets during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan. Despite claims by the likes of Hillary Clinton and David Cameron that Indonesia represents the paragon of Muslim democracy, the Political and Economic Risk Consultancy (PERC) ranked Indonesia’s judicial system the most corrupt in Asia. And despite judicial chief Mahfud MD’s recent reassurance that “the Constitutional Court has guaranteed the freedom of atheists and communists in this country,†as if the two were synonymous, Indonesian civil servantAlexander Aan was sentenced to two and a half years in prison last year for stating on Facebook that God does not exist.



August 26, 2009 · 8:02 am

FPI sweeping on beauty parlours and entertainment centers, Yogyakarta – Tuesday (25/8/09) early in the morning, Front Pembela Islam (FPI – Islamic Defender Front) – a mass organization – conducted a sweeping on beauty parlours and entertainment centers in Yogyakarta. They almost clashed with the Police who came to disperse them.

Dozens of people who claimed to act on behalf of FPI entered several buildings. They conducted a sweeping actions on entertainment centers deemed to have disturbed the sacred month of Ramadhan.

Riding several cars and motorbikes, the militia also interrogated several youths who were hanging out on the streets of Yogya.

Those they found drinking alcohol were immediately dispersed, not forgetting to crush the bottles of liquors they found on the scene. These militias almost clashed with the police who came to disperse them on account of disturbing public order.

Fortunately the clash didn’t materialize. However the militias have threatened to continue their vigilante actions on entertainment centers. Furthermore they demanded restaurant owners to close their restaurants during daylight. (Kresna Agung / Dv)

Translated from:


August 27, 2009 · 7:34 pm

Naughty Restaurants subject to Inspection

August 25, 2009 – 17:21

Cilegon (pos kota) – Cilegon mayor, Tb. Aat Syafa’at was outraged when he found out that his ban on opening restaurants up to 4 pm was not observed by restaurant owners. Tuesday (25/8).

The mayor quickly ordered city officials to warn the restaurants. Several restaurants and fast-food outlets which remain open during the daylight will be subjected to inspection and given warning.

The chief of Cilegon Public Order officials, Enang Sudrajat said that inspection will be conducted to uphold the regulation of Cilegon city, specifically Regulation no. 556.322/1547/Pol PP concerning the ban of entertainment centers, restaurants and food outlet to open in daylight during the month of Ramadhan.

“Keeping in line with the regulation, all restaurants and entertainment centers must be closed during Ramadhan. They can resume their business starting 4 pm. Things will return to normal 3 days after Eid day,†said Endang.

Endang further reiterated that his department will not refrain from taking strong measures. Should there still be violators then they must face the consequences which is the cancellation of their business permit. “We will be vigilant. If they do not heed our warnings, then it is possible to cancel their permit,†said Endang.

It was previously reported that a number of fast food restaurants in Cilegon violated the Mayor’s decree. They remain open in daylight during Ramadhan. (haryono/B)

Translated from:


August 26, 2009 · 8:18 pm

“Prince of Jihad†arrested in Indonesia

THE owner of a radical Islamist website who calls himself the Prince of Jihad in his blog postings has been arrested in connection with the Jakarta hotel bombings.

Counter-terror squad officers arrested Muhamad Jibril Abdurahman, alias Muhamad Ricky Ardan bin Mohammad Iqbal, near Jakarta late yesterday and also raided the office of his website,, a police spokesman said.

Police believe the Pakistan-educated suspect helped channel funds from abroad to finance the July 17 twin suicide bombings on the JW Marriott and Ritz-Carlton hotels that killed nine people, including six foreigners.

The source of the funds is not known, but police have said they are investigating whether the money came from al-Qaeda brokers in the Middle East, among other possible donors.

Muhamad Jibril is well-known in Indonesian radical circles as a publicist of extremist material, and is the son of a firebrand Islamist cleric who has been linked in the past to the Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) regional terror network.

In addition to the website, he edited a publication called Jihadmagz which espoused jihad or “holy war†against the West.

“He chose his jihad path through working in the media. He felt there were many Muslims who were being suppressed everywhere and there was a war of thoughts,†Indonesian extremism analyst Noor Huda Ismail said.

Police said Muhamad Jibril was an accomplice of Saudi national Al Khalil Ali, who was arrested earlier this month on suspicion of smuggling money from abroad to pay for the attacks.

Muhamad Jibril, believed to be aged in his mid-20s, is the son of Indonesian cleric Abu Jibril who was arrested in Malaysia in 2001 on suspicion of being a senior JI member.

The father was deported to Indonesia where he served about five months in jail for using a forged passport. He now runs a website,, which also supports radical Islamist groups and spouts jihadist ideology.

“Jihad and terrorism are not something to be afraid of or avoided, because to cause terror to Allah’s enemies is the instruction of Islam,†said an article by the Prince of Jihad which appeared on both websites after the July 17 attacks.

Abu Jibril’s lawyer, Yusuf Sembiring, confirmed that Muhamad Jibril was the author of articles on and attributed to the Prince of Jihad.

“Abu Jibril said his son is not involved in whatever the police are accusing him of. He said Muhamad Jibril is not involved in the hotel bombings,†the lawyer said.

He said the websites were not meant to “spread terrorism†but police confirmed they were investigating Muhamad Jibril for possible breaches of the criminal code related to inciting hatred.

His website was offline today.

Police also reportedly raided Abu Jibril’s house and took laptops and copies of sermons.
The cleric accused police of seeking to “terrorise Muslims†, according to the Detikcom news website.

“I worry that Muslims will be afraid to say jihad,†he was quoted as saying.

Muhamad Jibril’s detention brings to five the number of people in custody over the hotel attacks, the worst in the mainly Muslim country since 2005.

Five other suspects are being sought, including Malaysian alleged mastermind Noordin Mohammed Top, who was reported killed in a police raid earlier this month but remains at large.

Another five members of the cell have been killed, including the operational planner who worked as a florist at the hotels, police said.

Analysts have said that if the funding for the attacks came from abroad a likely source would be al-Qaeda, but police have made no such connection.



August 27, 2009 · 7:31 pm

Special Report: Depok mayor retracts HKBP church permit

In a country which embraces five official religions and claims Unity in Diversity as the state motto, people with different religions apparently continue to encounter difficulties living side by side. In the wake of a recent conflict between a Protestant church with Muslim groups and Depok administration, The Jakarta Post’s Hasyim Widhiarto compiled the following report on the problems between the majority and the minority in the municipality.

Betty Sitorus, a member of the Huria Kristen Batak Protestant (HKBP) congregation in Cinere, Depok, recalls how a sudden attack in October last year had destroyed the congregation’s wish to have their own church.

“Builders working on our church were taking a break when around 50 people came and asked them to leave.†Betty said.

“They were all carrying wooden blocks with nails in them, threatening workers not to continue the construction of the church.â€

The attack was organized by the Muslim Solidarity Forum (FSUI), members of which claimed to be Muslims living in the Bukit Cinere Indah (BCI) residential complex and nearby areas. It was the second time the congregation has faced difficulties after work on the same church was stopped in 1999 following a series of protests from nearby residents.

After the attack, the committee sent three letters to Depok Mayor Nurmahmudi Ismail, asking him to facilitate a dialogue.

Instead of receiving any response, however, the committee unexpectedly had their church building permit (IMB) canceled by the mayor on March 27.

Without their own church, the HKBP congregation, which currently comprises more than 350 families, now borrows Bahtera Allah church in Pangkalan Jati, South Jakarta.

Depok, situated on Jakarta’s southern border, was once known as Catholic city with many churches. Depok was founded by Vereenigde Oostindische Compagnie (VOC) officer Cornelis Chasltelein, during the Dutch colonial period.

The 200 square kilometer municipality is currently led by Depok Mayor Nurmahmudi who was nominated by the Islam-based Prosperous Justice Party (PKS), and elected in 2005.

Having run his administration for more than three years, Nurmahmudi, however, has faced criticism from many non-Muslim residents since it has been very difficult for them to obtain building permits for their houses of worship.

The recent cancellation of the HKBP church building permit, for example, has drawn many protests from Christian communities, Muslim scholars and activists who promote pluralism in Indonesia.

Ranap Sinaga, head of the advocacy group for church construction disputes at the Indonesian Communion of Churches’ (PGI) Depok chapter, said since 2007 the Christians in the city had submitted 23 applications for building permits for churches, but only six of them had been approved.

“Seeing the unfriendly situation, many Christian congregations have chosen to hold off submitting other building permit applications.

“Now, many *Christians in Depok* who don’t have churches prefer to hold masses or other prayers at houses, borrow other congregation’s churches or rent public halls,†he said.

According to a 2006 ministerial decree, a new house of worship must have the support of at least 90 congregation members and at least 60 local residents of different faiths. It also has to obtain a recommendation from the govern-ment-sponsored Interfaith Communication Forum (FKUB) before gaining final approval from the local administration.

Data from Depok FKUB shows there have been 34 applications for building permits for houses of worship since 2006, but less than 10 have been approved so far.

“Most of the churches we have rejected get a strong refusal from the broader community, even though their congregations have already secured the required approvals of 60 residents,†FKUB chairman Farid Hajiri said.

Depok currently has a population of more than 1.4 million, 92 percent of whom are Muslim, 4.4 percent Christian and 2.4 percent Catholic.

According to the Depok Religious Affairs Office, there are currently 62 churches facilitating more than 62,000 Christians and six churches for more than 30,000 Catholics in the city.

The distribution of churches has also become a problem.

In Sawangan district, for example, there are only four churches for 15,620 Christians – far fewer than the 22 churches in Pancoran Mas where some 9,000 Christians reside.

In Beji district, some 11,300 members of the Catholic community claim to have no church in their area.

Nurmahmudi had approved building applications for several churches. On various occasion, Nurmahmudi has said his decisions to approve building permits for houses of worship were aimed at preventing conflicts.

Ranap said he was disappointed, saying the mayor should have played an intermediary role to settle such disputes.

“Seeing this situation, there is a strong indication the mayor wants to localize the churches and perhaps limit the development of Christianity in Depok.â€

Noted Muslim scholar Azyumardi Azra said the Depok mayor should have clarified his latest decision to revoke the HKBP church because the decision had affected not only the relationship between Christians and Muslims in the area but also Christians with the administration. (hwa)