Muslim radicals colonising the country, Indonesian bishops say

NDONESIA

Muslim radicals colonising the country, Indonesian bishops say

by Mathias Hariyadi

The bishop of Padang warns against the systematic and organised spread of radical Islamic ideology. Political authorities are criticised for failing to stop the wave of violence. In the meantime, police is out in force to prevent anti-Christian violence over the Christmas period.

Jakarta (AsiaNews) – Mgr Mathinus D Situmorang, president of the Indonesian Bishops of Conference’s (KWI), warned Indonesian political elites on a potentially serious threat to the national interest. The prelate, who is the bishop of Padang (Western Sumatra), delivered his word of caution during the admission ceremony for new members of the Indonesian Catholic University Student Association (PMKRI). In his address, he criticised the state for its powerlessness in the face of dozens of attacks carried out by Islamic fundamentalist groups against churches and Christians. 

“In the past, Indonesia was occupied and colonised by foreign rulers. However, the present situation is not much better even if we are ruled by fellow Indonesian citizens,” the bishop said. Here, he was referring to recent attacks carried out by the Islamic Defender Front (FPI), which stormed two places of worship in Rancaekek, Bandung Regency (West Java), forcing their closure. More broadly, he is deeply concerned that religious intolerance is spreading and taking rook among ordinary people. Muslim extremists, he explained, had no legal right to interfere with the aforementioned places of worship even if they did not have a building permit. What is more, the situation is getting worse because law enforcement is not stopping the Islamists, and it is not clear why.

Nonetheless, for the prelate, “A spirit of intolerance is finding fertile ground because of political interests”. In Parung, Bogor Regency, local authorities issued a ban against the Saint John the Baptist Catholic Church to prevent Christmas celebrations. 

“If some Christian communities in Indonesia hold religious ceremonies in the streets or in the open, it is out of necessity because they have been unable to secure a building permit for their place of worship, and this, for years,” Bishop Situmorang explained.

“If the [central] government and local authorities are stopped by every extremist Muslim group, the situation will get worse and the state’s sovereignty will be given away to illegal groups that will carry out actions against the law,” he lamented.

Still, the 3,000 parishioners who belong to the Saint John the Baptist Catholic Church will be able to celebrate Christmas at a local nuns’ compound. Indonesia’s Defence Minister Purnomo Yusgiantoro, who is Catholic, rejected the accusation, saying that any violent act would be punished. Mgr Situmorang is not so sure. For him, the state is powerless and incapable of dealing with the problem. Yet, he is still “proud to belong to a multicultural society, where the spirit of intolerance is restrained”. 

In the meantime, hours before the start of Christmas services, the country has been placed under tight security with thousands of police deployed near churches, 8,000 in Jakarta alone. In Bali, police has secured every strategic site, including churches.

A study by the Setara Institute for Democracy and Peace warns that whilst most violent actions are carried out by the infamous FPI, less noticeable actions by other radical Muslim groups are equally worrisome, especially since they are increasingly supported by ordinary people and are attracting even liberal groups and moderate clerics.

There are also rumours that radical elements have infiltrated the moderate Indonesian Ulemas Council (MUI), the country’s most important organisation of Muslim clerics, which wields the greatest influence in moral and political terms. According to the Setara report, beside the FPI, other important violent Islamist groups are the Islamic Reform Movement (Garis) and the Islamic People’s Forum (FUI).

The same study noted that in “2005, FUI’s chief Al Khaththath [. . .] made it to the MUI’s board of directors,” and at the organisation’s annual meeting that year, he was among those who “actively lobbied the MUI to issue an edict forbidding the practice of liberal Islam”

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Interventionism, Not Muslims, Is the Problem — by Jacob G. Hornberger

One of the popular post-9/11 sentiments has been the one that holds that Muslims are bent on conquering the world. The notion is that Muslims hate Christianity and Western freedom and values and that such hatred is rooted in the Koran and stretches back centuries. Thus, the United States has been drawn, reluctantly, into a war against Muslims. That’s why U.S. forces are in Iraq and Afghanistan, the argument goes — to defend our freedoms by killing Muslims over there before they get over here and kill us.

I sometimes wonder whether the people who have this mindset have reflected on the ramifications of their belief.

For example, if Muslims in general are at war with the United States, then why shouldn’t Americans be out killing Muslims here in the United States? After all, when a nation is at war, isn’t it permissible to kill the enemy? Isn’t that what war is all about?

The reason that proponents of this view don’t start killing Muslims here in the United States is very simple: Deep down, they know that the killers will be indicted by their very own government for murder. They will then be prosecuted, convicted, and sentenced to serve time in a federal penitentiary for murder.

Let’s carry the ramifications overseas.

If the United States is at war against Muslims, then why not start with ousting the Muslim regime in Iraq and installing a Christian or Jewish regime in its place? Yes, I said Iraq. Believe it or not, the U.S. invasion of that country succeeded in installing an Islamic regime, a regime which, by the way, has closely aligned itself with the radical Islamic regime in Iran.

A second-choice candidate for invasion, occupation, and regime change would be Kuwait, another country run by an Islamic regime. Since Saddam Hussein’s forces were easily able to conquer the country, it should be a piece of cake for U.S. forces.

A problem arises however. Once the United States effects regime change in Iraq and Kuwait, installing Christian or Jewish regimes, what about the millions of Muslims in those two countries? Sure, their governments would no longer be Islamic but what about the millions of people living there? Wouldn’t they still be the enemy to Christians and the West? Wouldn’t they still be bent on world conquest? What should be done with them? Perpetual incarceration in concentration camps? Mass executions of all Muslims?

And what about Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Egypt, and all the other countries in which people are predominantly Muslim. You know — the Islamic countries that are the recipients of billions of dollars in U.S. foreign aid. Does the U.S. government invade those countries too, effect regime change, and incarcerate or execute the millions of Muslims living there?

During the Cold War, people used to say the same thing about the communists that we’re now hearing about the Muslims. The communists were coming to get us, and some Americans were even looking under their beds for communists. In fact, 58,000 American men were sacrificed in Southeast Asia because U.S. officials claimed that Vietnam was the central front in the war on communism. With a military loss in Vietnam, the dominoes would start falling, they told us, with the final domino being the United States.

Yet, the U.S. did lose in Vietnam, and yet the dominoes didn’t fall. It turned out that those 58,000 American men died for nothing. Today, U.S. officials even travel to Vietnam as tourists. Americans are freely trading with the people who were supposedly going to invade the United States and take over the IRS and the public schools.

Ironically, throughout the Cold War there was nary a mention of the Islamic threat to the West, even though proponents of that view today claim that the Muslim threat stretches back many centuries. In fact, the irony of ironies is that during the Cold War the U.S. government even entered into partnerships with Muslims, including Osama bin Laden, Saddam Hussein, and various Islamic regimes in the Middle East. No one accused U.S. officials of treason for entering into agreements with the enemy.

It’s true that Muslims have fundamental differences with Christians and the West, and vice versa. But those types of differences ordinarily do not cause people to kill people who have different values. Most Muslims are no different from Americans in the sense that they simply wish to live their lives in peace, practice their faith, raise their families, and be left alone. They don’t like it when some foreign government tries to interfere with their way of life, just as Americans don’t like it when some foreign government does that to them.

What all too many Americans, unfortunately, will not permit themselves to see is that that is precisely what the U.S. government did in the Middle East, especially when the Soviet communist bugaboo evaporated in 1989. As a result of U.S. interventionism in the Middle East, especially the interventionism that resulted in large number of deaths (e.g., the sanctions and the no-fly zones), what began as differences in values rose to the level of anger and rage that induced some people to seek vengeance through violence.

Thus, rather than ceasing its policy of interventionism after 9/11, which is what the U.S. government should have done even while pursuing the perpetrators through criminal-justice means, it did the very worst thing possible — it continued and even expanded its policy of interventionism in the hope of killing those whose differences with America’s values had risen to the level of rage as a result of U.S. interventionism. Not surprisingly, that only fueled more anger and rage.

So, what should the U.S. government do now? It should do what it should have done after 9/11: Exit Afghanistan and Iraq and the entire Middle East. Bring all the troops home.

Would this quell the anger and rage against the United States? Not all of it but certainly much of it. As I said above, most people simply want to live their lives in peace.

After all, look at Vietnam, where the U.S. government killed more than a million people. Once U.S. forces exited the country, the Vietnamese left the United States alone.

While there is the ever-present risk that there will still be some people who will still want vengeance, their numbers will be relatively small. While they will constitute an ever-present threat of terrorism, that’s the price that must be paid for past interventions. What’s important to note is that continued interventionism can never solve that problem — it can only make it worse.

When governments go awry, it is up to the citizenry to straighten out their course. The problem is not Muslims or Islam. The problem is the U.S. government and, specifically, its foreign policy of interventionism. Bringing an end to that policy will restore a sense of peace and harmony not only to the American people but also the people of the world.

 

 

Jacob Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation. Send him email.