FPI vows to retaliate over Koran burning
The Islam Defenders Front (FPI) has vowed to retaliate if a US-based militant Christian group goes ahead with its “World Koran Burning Day” campaign in observance of 9/11.
FPI chairman Habib Rizieq made the threat during a meeting with leaders of an interfaith group in Jakarta
on Wednesday. He stopped short of being specific. “We have plans. Just wait and see what we will do,” he said.
Rizieq said it was not enough for local religious leaders to simply condemn the Koran-burning plan. He said they must take “concrete action” so that the US government stop the campaign.
“Indonesian Muslims will be angry if the Koran is burned and [the FPI] will not blame them if they retaliate here at home,” he said.
The “World Koran Burning Day” campaign has been planned by the Gainesville, a Florida-based Dove World Outreach Center, which states on its website and Facebook page the day is “in remembrance of the fallen victims of 9/11 and to stand against ... Islam”.
The campaign has been condemned by Indonesian interfaith leaders, who have demanded the Obama administration stop it.
The FPI is notorious for its use of violence as a means to achieve its goals. Dialogue was held Wednesday to discuss the latest religious conflicts both at home and abroad, and how Indonesia should respond to the issues.
On the domestic front, interfaith leaders raised the recent spate of religious violence allegedly involving hard-line Islamic groups such as the FPI. The latest major incident was an attack on the congregation of the HKBP church in Bekasi.
The two-hour meeting facilitated by the International Conference of Islamic Scholars (ICIS) failed to reach any conclusion on how to end the violence, which is widely feared to worsen and threaten Indonesia’s integrity as a pluralist nation.
Indonesian Communion of Churches (PGI) chairman Andreas Yewangu expressed his great concern over the attacks and forcible closure of churches and their worshippers, which he said were against the freedom of religion guaranteed by the Constitution.
“We are truly sad about what has happened over the past few months. The violence committed in the name of religion cannot be justified and must be stopped otherwise it may trigger a domino effect that can lead to the nation fragmenting,” he said
ICIS secretary-general Hasyim Muzadi underlined the need for religious communities to respect citizens’ constitutional right to worship wherever and whenever they wanted.
“Nobody but the government has the authority to enforce the law and offenses should be referred to the police to handle,” he said.
Indonesian Pentacostal Church chairman Rev. Robinson Nainggolan questioned the FPI’s motives behind the frequent raids on places of worship. Pentacostal churches are the most targeted, he said.
He also lambasted the government and security authorities, which he said failed to take necessary measures against the Islamic mass organization and its members involved in raids.
“We are aware of the reality that Christianity along with Buddhism and Hinduism are minorities in the country, but all sides should bear in mind that all communities are equal before the law. The government must take action against any sides taking the law into their hands,” he said. Rizieq has denied the accusations, saying the FPI respected other religions and shun violence.