Indonesia Urged to be Serious in Protecting Its Citizens

Padang Ulama (NU)’s central executive board has urged the government to be more serious in protecting the people from all acts of violence and intimidation.

"The state must protect every citizen," NU Chairman KH Said Aqil Siroj said at a meeting with a number of religious leaders at the Islamic organization’s headquarters here Tuesday.

Over the past days, Indonesia has been shocked by two sectarian violence which claimed three lives. The government should improve its capability of protecting the citizens, securing most vulnerable segments of society, and taking serious measures for anticipating repeated violence, he said.

"The government must also take stern actions against all perpetrators in accordance with existing legal procedures," said this NU figure.

Said Aqil Siroj further said he did deplore the police for their sluggish anticipatory measures and responses to violence cases in the society.

"I deplore the police. With all means, capabilities and intelligence units the police have, why they are not aware of what has and will have happened?"

"There is an impression that they let it happen but I hope this is not so," he said.

Said Aqil Siroj also called on NU cadres and members to take an active part in encouraging members of society to get rid of any act of violence.

"We also ask the people in general not to be easily provoked to take acts of violence," he said.

Over the past two days, there have been two separate sectarian incidents that shocked the nation. Two days after a deadly attack on Ahmadiyah followers in Umbulan village, Pandeglang district, Banten province, another sectarian incident happened in Temanggung district, Central Java, on Tuesday.

In the Sunday attack, three Ahmadiyah followers believed to be Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, the founder of the sect in 1889 as a prophet after Muhammad (peace be upon him), were killed. In the Temanggung incident, at least two churches and a Catholic school complex as well as a number of vehicles were destroyed.

The incident itself was believed by the Central Java provincial police to have been provoked by misleading information disseminated to the public through short message service (SMS) saying that the defendant of religious blasphemy case, Antonius Richmond Bawengan, 50, would have a light punishment by the Tamanggung district court.

Central Java police chief Inspector General Edward Aritonang said on Tuesday evening that the court’s panel of judges sentenced him to five years in jail. In response to the latest incident, Archbishop of Semarang Monsignor Johannes Pujasumarta called on Catholics in Temanggung district, Central Java, to remain calm.

"I urge Catholics to remain smart and not to be emotional and take violent acts to respond to violence," he said.


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