Recommend UsEmail this PageeGazetteAlislam.org
Court beefs up security ahead of ruling
Arghea Desafti Hapsari, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta
To prepare for possible clashes when it announces its verdict on a judicial review petition on the Blasphemy Law, the Constitutional Court is beefing up security at the building.
The court’s general bureau chief, Noor Sidharta, told The Jakarta Post on Sunday that he had requested Jakarta Police deploy 500 officers to guard the court building complex this afternoon when judges will read out their much-awaited verdict.
Previous hearings of the controversial judicial review request of the law were guarded by 300 officers.
“We learned from [the incident] the other day. Now we are preparing twice the usual number of police officers,” Noor said, referring to an altercation during recess at the last hearing between followers of the hard-line Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) and several members of a team of lawyers for the petitioners.
Officials fear violence could break out, especially in the wake of last week’s deadly brawl in Koja, North Jakarta, where the FPI and other organizations joined hundreds of local residents in street battles with security officers over an Islamic shrine.
FPI supporters also attacked activists from the National Alliance for the Freedom of Faith and Religion who had gathered at Monas Park in the middle of 2008.
The activists were conducting a peace rally supporting religious pluralism. A court found an FPI leader guilty of the violence and sentenced him to 18 months in prison.
Muslim scholar Azyumardi Azra warned of a repeat of the attacks by hard-line groups.“Those involved in any demonstrations should refrain from breaking the law,” he said.
He also called on the police to be extra vigilant.
“Those [hard-line] organizations have leaders. The police have to grow a pair and take action against them if they get violent. Don’t let them walk away without being held responsible for their deeds. If police let them off the hook, they will keep doing it,” he told the Post.
He criticized the fact that members of Muslim organizations were too easily mobilized in the name of Islam.
Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), the country’s largest Muslim organization, is among those who have voiced concern over possible violence if the court rules in favor of the petitioners and repeals the 45-year-old law.
“Violence should not be a means to force one’s viewpoint on others. Everyone has to view the ruling with an open mind, regardless of the ruling,” Masdar Farid Mas’udi, a member of NU’s lawmaking body, said.
Indonesians, Masdar added, trusted the court to solve the legal dispute, so “we must respect its decisions”. Islamic organization Hizbut Tahrir Indonesia (HTI) said it would not stage a rally ahead of Monday’s ruling, although it would object to a ruling in favor of the petitioners.
“We understand the [court’s] decision will be based on facts presented in the hearings,” HTI spokesman Ismail Yusanto said.