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Hard-liners ambush Monas rally
The Associated Press, Jakarta
Supporters of Indonesia’s largest Islamic organization clashed with Muslim hard-liners following a bloody attack by the radicals on interfaith activists, police and witnesses said Tuesday.
One person was injured when members of Nahdhatul Ulama brawled with hard-liners from the Islamic Defenders Front, or FPI, late Monday in Jogyakarta on Java island.
Angry crowds in recent days have gathered outside FPI offices and homes in two other towns on Java to protest Sunday’s attack on a religious tolerance rally in the capital, Jakarta.
“We are now on high alert to anticipate any follow-up violence,” said police Lt. Col. Suharsono, saying he had received reports that other FPI members were traveling to the town. Suharsono goes by a single name.
At least 12 people were injured in Sunday’s attack, three of whom required hospital treatment for head wounds. The rally was attended by a supporters of Gus Dur, the head of Nahdhatul Ulama, which has 40 million members and is Indonesia’s largest Muslim organization.
Nahdhatul Ulama members have been further angered by derogatory statements the head of the FPI has directed at Gus Dur since that attack.
While the incidents have been small and easily contained, authorities will be giving the tension close attention given Indonesia’s recent history of occasional bloody ethnic, religious or political violence.
Sunday’s rally was also attended by members of the minority Muslim sect, Ahmadiyah.
Hard-liners and many mainstream Muslims dislike the 80-year-old Ahmadiyah, which is banned in conservative Islamic countries such as Saudi Arabia, because it does not consider Muhammad to be the final prophet.
The group has been targeted since a government commission in April declared it “heretical” and recommended it be outlawed. The government was considering what action - if any - to take against the group.
Liberal Muslims leaders, including Gus Dur, and civil rights activists acting in defense of religious freedom have rallied in support of Ahmadiyah, saying the government should be protecting it from attack.(*)