SBY blames intelligence in Sampang attack
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Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono: (JP)President Susilo Bambang Yu-dhoyono is blaming incompetent law-enforcement and intelligence officials for the religiously motivated attacks on minority Shiite Muslims on Madura Island in Sampang, East Java.
“The intelligence services, whether the National Police or the Indonesian Military [TNI], as well as local offices, should have been able to detect irregularities in the communities. The [security] apparatus could have been better prepared. Actual anticipation efforts were poor. It looks like it was too late,” Yudhoyono said to reporters after presiding over a Cabinet meeting to discuss the attacks on Monday.
The President ordered National Police chief Gen. Timur Pradopo, TNI chief Adm. Agus Suhartono and Law and Human Rights Minister Amir Syamsuddin to travel to Ma-dura to restore the peace in Sampang.
“I have asked the leaders of law enforcement agencies such as the police and prosecutors, as well as the Supreme Court, to enforce the law decisively and fairly,” Yudhoyono said.
The President also had a warning for officials: “If you are indecisive and unjust, similar incidents will recur in the future.”
In what Yudhoyono called “a complex and religiously linked” incident, two Shiite Muslims were killed and seven were wounded when a mob of Sunni Muslims attacked their compound in Sampang on Sunday.
About 35 homes were set ablaze by the Sunni mob. Hundreds of Shiites have taken shelter in a local sports hall.
It was the second outburst in recent months in Madura between Shiites and Sunnis, who comprise the overwhelming majority of Muslims in Indonesia.
In December in the same village, a Sunni mob burned down a house and pesantren (Islamic boarding school) run by Tajul Muluk, the Shia community leader.
That incident was triggered by allegations that Tajul allegedly taught that the Koran was not original scripture and that a true version of the holy book would only be revealed to the Imam Mahdi.
Tajul was sentenced to two years’ imprisonment for blasphemy by the Sampang District Court on July 12. None of the attackers have been tried.
Meanwhile, key members of Yudhoyono’s security apparatus admitted to failures or vowed to step up their response to the violence.
The police chief said that eight suspects were arrested for the violence on Sunday, including the mastermind of the riot, identified by the initial “R”.
“We will accelerate the investigation,” Timur said.
Meanwhile, National Intelligence Agency (BIN) chief Lt. Gen. Marciano Norman said that intelligence failures had contributed to the violence.
“I have to admit, we must improve our intelligence services. We are evaluating it after the Sunday incident,” he said.
Separately, right activists Usman Hamid said that the government had to arrest the attackers and determine the people and organizations behind the attacks.
According to Usman, based on the statements of the victims, the attackers on Sunday were also the same people responsible for the mayhem last year.
Usman also alleged that there was growing suspicion that Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), the nation’s largest Muslim organization, and the regional government funded the attack.
“A verdict by the NU that said Shia is deviant was being used as a tool to justify this violence. And as of today, none of the attackers have faced the legal process,” Usman said.
According to Choirul Anam of the Human Rights Working Group (HRWG), the Religious Affairs Ministry should make a pronouncement that Shia is just another branch in Islam and cannot be considered deviant.
“The Religious Affairs Ministry should make an announcement to the public that Shia is not a deviant Islamic branch and it’s accepted as a part of Islam by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation [OIC], that has Iran — a Shiite country — as one of its members,” Anam said. (nad)
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