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Indonesia: NU national chief renounces Shiite persecution in Sampang, local leader differs


Mutawakkil said prohibiting Shiites from conducting their religious activities in public was much better than banning them, as is the case in countries such as Algeria, Egypt, Jordan and Tunisia.

Ahmadiyya Times | News Watch | Int’l Desk
Source/Credit:  The Jakarta Globe
By Arientha Primanita, Markus Junianto Sihaloho & Ezra Sihite
Date: August 29, 2012

The chairman of the country’s largest Islamic organization, Nahdlatul Ulama, on Tuesday distanced his group from the recent deadly violence against members of the Shia community in Sampang, East Java.

“Shia is not a deviant sect, it is only different from us,” NU chairman Said Aqil Siradj said after meeting with President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono at the presidential office in Jakarta.

He said Shia followers had been around for centuries and were only believers in a different school of Islam, adding that differences in the religion’s interpretation were part of the dynamics of Islamic life.

“This cannot be made into a reason for attacking each other and for conflict,” he said.

He said those behind an attack on a busload of Shia students in Sampang on Sunday, which left two adults who were accompanying them dead, and the torching of 35 houses owned by Shiites, were not acting in the name of the organization, which has a strong influence in the region.

NU, he said, did not tolerate violence, whatever the reason.

Said’s statement stood in contrast to that of the head of the East Java chapter of NU, Mutawakkil Alallah, who said Shia was in violation of human rights because it had shown contempt for Islam.

“The solution is we will not ban it, but ask Shiites to avoid activities in public,” Mutawakkil said on Tuesday, according to the state Antara news agency. “If they limit their activities from the public sphere or only within their families, they will of course be safe.”

He said that the conflict involving Shiites in Sampang had been settled at the district level and through East Java gubernatorial decree No. 55 of 2012, but there had been a violation of that agreement, leading to a re-eruption of the conflict. The decree ordered Shiites to keep their activities out of the public.

Mutawakkil said the NU was at peace with other religious communities, but the conflict with the Shiites came from their violation of the agreement and decree.

Mutawakkil, who heads the Zainul Hasan Muslim boarding house in Probolinggo, said the head of the Shiite Muslim boarding school in Sampang, Tajul Muluk, had created controversy by speaking blasphemously against the three leaders of Islam that followed the Prophet Muhammad.

The question of who were the rightful leaders of Islam following the prophet’s death is a major source of tension between the two sects.

“Tajul Muluk also does not recognize the Koran as having 30 letters and does not recognize the hadiths of Bukhari-Muslim and only recognizes Shia hadiths. They also refuse to recognize imams other than Sayidina Ali, so that they cannot accept the leadership of the president, the governor, the district head and mayor and others,” Mutawakkil said.

Hadiths are Muhammad’s acts and statements, spread by his relatives or friends and written by following generations of clerics. They are considered a main source of Islamic law alongside the Koran, with the Bukhari-Muslim version being considered by Sunni, the majority in Indonesia, as the most authoritative source.

Mutawakkil said prohibiting Shiites from conducting their religious activities in public was much better than banning them, as is the case in countries such as Algeria, Egypt, Jordan and Tunisia.

Said Aqil said that he had also asked NU deputy chairman Saifullah Yusuf, who is also deputy governor of East Java, to go to Sampang and mediate peace.

Meanwhile, Home Affairs Minister Gamawan Fauzi also said the Sampang incident was purely a criminal case that originated from a family feud between two brothers, Tajul and Roisul Hukama, dating back to 2004.

“It just so happen that the two were of different sects, one Shia and the other Sunni,” Gamawan said. “They also each have many followers and the problem started here. It is not a religious problem but a personal problem between the two.”

Gamawan spoke after a two-hour closed-door meeting on the Sampang problem between him, top officials from the East Java government, the justice and human rights minister, the religious affairs minister, the head of the State Intelligence Agency (BIN), the chief of the armed forces (TNI) and the head of the National Police.

Also on Tuesday, the chairman of House of Representatives Commission III on legal affairs, Gde Pasek Suardika, said the commission would send a fact-finding team to Sampang at the end of the month and after that would seek clarification from National Police Chief Gen. Timur Pradopo.

“The dimensions [of the conflict] could be multilevel, and therefore we will first look for the facts. After that we will summon the National Police chief to clarify and ask about the security policies so that a solution can be obtained,” Pasek said.

Aziz Syamsuddin, the deputy chairman of the commission, said each House faction would be represented by one member from Commission III.

Meanwhile, Syatibi Hambali, the chairman of the Lebak district chapter of the Indonesian Council of Ulema (MUI), said the Sampang incident was evidence of the weak sense of brotherhood and nationalism prevalent in the country, making it easy for the population to be provoked and to engage in horizontal conflicts.

“We are concerned with the Sampang incident that has claimed lives. … Islam prioritizes peaceful ways and not violence,” Syatibi said.

Police in East Java are planning to slap multiple charges against Tajul’s brother, who is suspected of inciting people to violence, leading to the deadly bus attack.

East Java Police spokesman Sr. Comr. Hilman Thayib said Roisul, an ulema in Nangerkang hamlet in Sampang, would face charges of premeditated murder and inciting mob violence.

“There are gunny sacks of evidence. All equipment and goods used as a means to kill and maim, such as blades and stones,” he said. “There is also the testimony of our own man at the location at the time who said that [Roisul] was actively provoking the masses over mosque loudspeakers.”

Additional reporting from Antara

Read original post here: Indonesia: NU Chief Renounces Shiite Persecution in Sampang

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