Govt guarantees Shiite Muslims' safety in Sampang
Praying for protection: A Shia follower prays in her shelter at the Sampang stadium in East Java on Thursday. Most Shiite refugees who were forced to flee their compound in Nangkernang village, Sampang said that they were exhausted and that they wanted to return home soon to resume their lives. Their compound was set ablaze by a group of Sunni Muslims on Sunday. (JP/Wahyoe Boediwardhana)
Home Affairs Minister Gamawan Fauzi said on Thursday that the government would not relocate Shia followers in Sampang, East Java, following Sunday’s fatal attack on the community but would instead guarantee their safety.
”If they want to stay there [at Karang Gayam and Bluuran villages in Sampang, East Java], then, we will help them rebuild their homes. We will guarantee their safety,” Gamawan said as quoted by kompas.com, commenting on the Shiite refugees.
Gamawan deplored various media reports stating that the government was ready to relocate the Shia compound after the incident that claimed the lives of two Shiites.
“There is news circulating that we are ready with a relocation plan. In fact, we have not decided our future plans,” he said.
Apart from taking two lives, the attack also left hundreds of Shiites homeless after their homes were destroyed by an angry mob. After the incident, 250 of the 500 Shiites were evacuated to a shelter located more than eight kilometers from their village. Dozens are still reportedly in hiding.
Instead of spreading unreliable information, Gamawan said that all parties should be concerned about the education of children affected by the attack. He said that the ministry and the East Java administration would jointly establish a temporary school in the shelter.
“We must ensure that those children can still continue their education,” he said.(riz/lfr)