The Jakarta Post
Nine Muslims from South Sulawesi who landed at El Tari Penfui Airport in Kupang, East Nusa Tenggara, on Thursday were intercepted by a group calling themselves the Brigade Meo Timor, in what seemed to be a retaliation for an Islamic group disrupting and closing Christian services in Bandung on Tuesday.
When the nine, all wearing long white shirts, got off a Garuda Airlines plane the group intercepted them. The Brigade Meo Timor notified East Nusa Tenggara Police and later police officers went to the airport and took the nine men to the police station.
The East Nusa Tenggara Police’s director of intelligence, Sr. Comr. Agus S., said the nine were going to Atambua in Belu regency to conduct religious services for 36 days to Muslims from the Bugis ethnic group in Atambua. The men were from a mosque on Jl. Kerung Kerung in Makassar, South Sulawesi.
The police later sent the men to the home of Abdul Kadir Makarim, the head of the East Nusa Tenggara Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI).
Brigade Meo Timor coordinator Benyamin Banoe said the group did not want the men in Kupang because Kupang residents were preparing for Christmas. He said the group wanted the police to prohibit the nine men from doing religious activities in East Nusa Tenggara to avoid “social unrest”. East Nusa Tenggara residents are mostly Christians.
“Peace is expensive. Thus, to keep harmony in East Nusa Tenggara, the nine men from South Sulawesi should be sent home,” he said.
MUI Abdul Kadir said the nine men should be returned home. “Don’t go to Atambua because the situation is not good. Don’t get us into trouble here,” he said.
East Nusa Tenggara Police chief Brig. Gen. Widyo Sunaryo said the nine men had not violated any laws. He said the police and MUI decided to send them home in consideration of “the current conditions after the Jakarta and Bandung situations”. (evi)
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