The Jakarta Post
A video depicting members of the civilian security unit under the Nahdlatul Ulama's Ansor youth wing (Banser) burning what is believed to be a Hizbut Tahrir Indonesia (HTI) flag has sparked controversy among Muslims.
In the two-minute video that went viral on Monday, individuals wearing Banser uniforms were seen taking out a black flag bearing the Islamic creed printed in Arabic during a rally while the other set the flag on fire. Dozens of other people wearing the same uniform were watching over the burning. When the fire started engulfing the flag, members started singing the Banser marching song.
The incident occurred during a National Santri Day rally in Garut, West Java, on Monday.
Indonesian netizens were outraged by the video, saying the flag burning was a blasphemous act.
“Will Banser members that burned the tauhid flag utter La Illaha Illallah [syahadah] upon their death, while they burned the sentence when alive?” Twitter user @CakKhum tweeted on Monday, while sharing the video.
West Java Governor Ridwan Kamil was among the first officials to respond to the video. The governor tweeted on his Twitter account @ridwankamil on Monday that he regretted the incident.
“They were supposed to burn the symbol of an organization that had been banned by the government, but in my opinion, [the act] triggered a different interpretation. Let’s express our views in an acceptable manner. Our nation needs that,” he said on Monday.
Ridwan referred to the government’s decision to ban HTI, an Islamic organization accused of promoting the establishment of a caliphate that contradicted Pancasila, last year.
Ridwan’s statement was echoed by Zainut Tauhid Saad, the deputy chairman of the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI), who said Banser should be more aware of what it was committing to avoid triggering conflict among Muslims.
He also urged people not be provoked by the video. “It shouldn’t be exaggerated because it might trigger further misunderstanding,” he said, as quoted by Antara.
The Garut Police have apprehended and questioned three people for their alleged involvement in the flag burning. Police chief Adj. Sr. Comr. Budi Satria Wiguna said the police were also looking for another individual who allegedly brought the flag to the rally.
“We suspect it was an HTI flag, although we need to investigate it further,” Budi said as quoted by kompas.com.
NU youth wing GP Ansor chairman Yaqut Cholil Coumas said he was collecting more information from officials of the wing’s Garut chapter regarding the incident. He added that GP Ansor would punish the implicated members if they were found guilty.
“[The punishment] will depend on the level of the wrongdoing. However, we don’t have the full story of the incident yet,” Yaqut said as quoted by tempo.co. (swd)