The Jakarta Post
The planned Asyura Day ceremony in Bandung was cancelled after the Bandung City Police revoked a permit previously issued by the Buah Batu Police to the West Java chapter of the Indonesia Ahlul Bait Congregation Society (Ijabi).
The organizer then relocated the event from Istana Kawaluyaan convention center on Thursday to its own premises at Muthahhari Senior High School.
Asyura Day is commemorated on the 10th day of Muharram to mark the slaying of Prophet Muhammad's grandson Hussein bin Ali bin Abi Thalib by his political opponents due to the issue of the succession of the Islamic world.
Shiites said only the descendants of Muhammad through Ali could be the true Islamic leader, a position denied by the Sunnis, which form the majority of Indonesian Muslims.
Bandung City Police operations chief, Adj. Sr. Comr. Diki Budiman, said the police did not issue the permit because the building management did not allow the use of its premises for the event.
'Before an event, organizers usually obtain a recommendation from the local subdistrict or district administration, but they failed due to inadequate requirements, so the police did not issue a permit,' he said.
Regarding the use of the school, Diki said Ijabi was not required to obtain a permit on its own premises.
The relocation caused problems for thousands of Ijabi members who come from various regions in the province. West Java Ijabi chief Hesti Rahardja said previous Asyura Day commemorations in Bandung had so far been conducted smoothly.
'But as the event has been relocated, many of our members from outside the city are not aware of this. We hope the police will escort them,' said Hesti.
Regarding permit procedures to hold the event, Hesti said his group had gone through the proper procedures and obtained a recommendation from the Buah Batu Police but the Bandung City Police did not process it further.
'Some people, or an organization, might have sent a letter to call off the event,' said Hesti, adding his group has made efforts to convince the police so the event could be held at the original venue.
Earlier, there were warnings to call off the Asyura commemoration. The objection was in the form of protest banners by unknown groups or persons put up in a number of streets in Bandung. Some of them read, 'We, all the Muslims in West Java reject the Asyura commemoration by the Shiite group.'
The banners were found on a number of major thoroughfares in the city, such as Jl. Mohammad Toha, Tegallega, Buah Batu and Jl. RE Martadinata.
Besides the protest banners, Hesti claimed social media had put his group under a lot of pressure.
'We are also surprised about this year's level of resistance. Usually nothing happened in Bandung,' he said.
Meanwhile, coordinator of the Inter-Religious Working Network, Wawan Gunawan regretted the incident. He said the police should have acted as a state institution that protects all Indonesian citizens without exception.
'The police should not have been influenced by a group of people. They did not function properly,' said Wawan.
He said he would file a lawsuit against the police at the State Administrative Court because the police revoked the permit and forced the relocation.
Later that afternoon, Ijabi chairman Jalaluddin Rakhmat said he would also lodge a complaint with the West Java Police.
'In its letter, the police said it could not issue a recommendation or permit because the organizing committee did not fulfill the requirements,' he told a press conference at Muthahhari Senior High School.
Jalaluddin said the police argued that Ijabi failed to get recommendations from the Bandung offices of the Inter-Religious Harmony Forum, Indonesian Ulema Council and the Religious Affairs Ministry.
'We have conducted the ceremony for 20 years but the police have never asked for the three recommendations in the past,' he said.
'The police only notified us one day before the event.'
In Jakarta, a similar event was cut short in Balai Samudera in Kelapa Gading, North Jakarta, after a group of protesters demanded the event be cancelled.
After a negotiation mediated by the North Jakarta Police, the organizer agreed to shorten the event from concluding at 6 p.m. to 4:10 p.m.
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