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Indonesian military backs religious persecution
Australian Broadcasting Corporation
Reporter: Matt Brown
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Footage shot by the ABC shows Indonesian military and police officers meeting with Muslim clerics to plan persecution of an Islamic sect.
TONY JONES, PRESENTER: Religious intolerance and violence is on the rise in Indonesia.
Hardline Muslims are persecuting members of an Islamic sect, apparently with official backing.
Exclusive footage shot by the ABC shows military and police intelligence officers planning with Muslim clerics to take over mosques belonging to that sect.
And last night three parcel bombs were sent to different locations in Jakarta, seriously wounding a police officer in what were thought to be separate acts of religious intolerance.
Indonesia correspondent Matt Brown reports from Jakarta.
MATT BROWN, REPORTER: What began as low-level harassment exploded recently into a full-scale lynching by a Muslim mob.
The violence is aimed at members of a small Muslim sect called Ahmadiyah, but it’s raising big questions about Indonesia’s reputation as a tolerant, pluralist place.
BAHTIAR EFFENDY, STATE ISLAMIC UNIVERSITY: Had the state be strong enough and function the way it’s supposed to function, I don’t think that this so-called radicalism will escalate.
MATT BROWN: The Ahmadiyahs have enraged hardline Muslims because they believe a 19th Century Indian man was a Muslim messiah.
This attack last month claimed the lives of three sect members.
CUCU SUPIATI, VICTIM’S MOTHER (voiceover translation): We are human. Sometime, when I really think about it, I really want to run as fast as I can, but I don’t know where to run.
MATT BROWN: The persecution has a form of official backing. The Muslim vigilantes say they’re simply enforcing a 2008 Government decree which bans Ahmadiyahs from spreading their beliefs.
CUCU SUPIATI (voiceover translation): I can’t accept this, the pain, the sadness. I’m suffocated. I can’t express it verbally or non-verbally. I can’t accept my son died like that.
MATT BROWN: The Government’s also been criticised because the police usually do nothing to intervene until it’s too late.
Amidst the escalating persecution, attention has focused on the presidential palace and the leadership of president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.
BAHTIAR EFFENDY: What we need is a strong words from president Yudhoyono to say that this isn’t right.
MATT BROWN: While the president’s condemned the violence, he’s also urged Ahmadiyah to obey the ban on proselytising. And now, a slew of regional governments have gone all the way, banning the group altogether.
In this exclusive ABC footage, members of Indonesia’s peak Islamic body can be seen planning with military and police intelligence officers to take over an Ahmadiyah mosque south-west of Jakarta.
RAFANI ACHYAR, MUSLIM SCHOLAR’S COUNCIL (voiceover translation): I believe there will be resistance in some areas, but that’s OK. We won’t stop trying. We’ll continue to convince them.
MATT BROWN: The first attempt was repelled with words and argument, but the potential for ongoing conflict remains high.
On a separate front, a high-profile moderate Muslim commentator was targeted by a parcel bomb in Jakarta yesterday. When local chief detective handled the device, it blew off his left hand.
MUKSID GOZALI, LIBERAL ISLAMIC CONGREGATION (voiceover translation): What these few people did, terrorising humanity, will not stop us fighting for peace and human rights in this country.
MATT BROWN: As police searched for clues, another bomb was discovered at the drug squad. It was addressed to the chief, who’s a Christian with a long track record in counter-terrorism. A similar bomb was received by the leader of a youth group whose mother is Jewish.
Matt Brown, Lateline.