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Indonesia army behind Islamist thugs, lawmaker says

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  • TheMalukan
    June 30, 2010 Indonesia army behind Islamist thugs, lawmaker says By Presi Mandari (AFP) A members of the Front Pembela Islam (FPI) JAKARTA — An Indonesian
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 1, 2010
      June 30, 2010

      Indonesia army behind Islamist thugs, lawmaker says

      By Presi Mandari (AFP)

      A members of the Front Pembela Islam (FPI) attends an anti Israel
protest outside the US embassy in Jakarta in this file photo.  Police
have denied claims that they are "lame ducks" when it comes to
dealing with violent organizations.  (AFP Photo/Adek Berry)
      A members of the Front Pembela Islam (FPI)

      JAKARTA — An Indonesian lawmaker on Wednesday accused the security forces of secretly supporting Islamist vigilantes as a kind of paramilitary force to intimidate opponents and commercial rivals.

      Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle lawmaker Eva Kusuma Sundari said extremist vigilantes known for violent attacks on bars, minorities and human rights advocates had direct links to military and police generals.

      "The organisation is now part of the conflict management strategy the Indonesian military exercises to maintain its power," she told AFP, referring to the stick-wielding fanatics known as the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI).

      "There are several military personnel who still 'use' the services of the FPI... I suspect they maintain and protect the FPI because they still have interests with them."

      The FPI, which has thousands of members, is known for threatening, intimidating and physically attacking Indonesians with almost complete impunity despite repeated calls for the government to ban the organisation.

      On Sunday it threatened "war" against the Christian minority in the Jakarta suburb of Bekasi and urged all mosques in the city to create armed militias.

      Sundari is a member of a group of MPs who has demanded the government crack down on the vigilantes after they burst into an official meeting on health care in East Java last week and accused the organisers of being communists.

      The meeting was sponsored by the House of Representatives and was attended by health commission chairwoman Ribka Tjiptaning and fellow MP Rieke Dyah Ayu Pitaloka.

      Tjiptaning, a doctor who has written a book about her communist parents, has filed a complaint alleging police negligence for failing to protect participants in the meeting.

      FPI chairman Habib Rizieq hit back at the group's critics, saying they were part of a communist and liberal conspiracy against the imposition of Islamic law in the secular but mainly Muslim country.

      "Police should not discriminate -- whoever propagates communism should be brought to justice as it is a criminal offence," he told a press conference at FPI headquarters in Jakarta.

      He did not renounce violence and when a journalist asked him to respond to community concerns about violence he accused him of being a communist.

      The military, known as the TNI, and the police have denied any links to Islamist vigilante groups.

      "The TNI does not have a pet," Defence Ministry spokesman Brigadier general I Wayan Midhio was quoted as saying in The Jakarta Post.

      National police spokesman Edward Aritonang said violence by FPI members was under investigation.

      Reflecting growing community concern about mob violence, The Jakarta Post said in an editorial that Jakarta and other cities in the country of 240 million people were "on the brink of anarchy".

      But the English-language daily added that banning the FPI would achieve little as long as the police -- "the real brutes" -- failed to do their duty.

      "Actually, we cannot blame serial thugs for their behaviour. There is no point expecting the higher rules of moral civility from groups of men (and some women) who are cowards and hypocrites by preying on pacifist civilians in the name of God," it said.

      "What we should condemn even more is the police and authorities who have not, and still are not, doing anything against these groups."

      Copyright © 2010 AFP. All rights reserved.

      Related articles:

          * Police: We cannot disband FPI
            Jakarta Post - June 29, 2010
          * Police Deny Neglect in Hard-Liner Raid
            Jakarta Globe - June 29, 2010
          * Rights Team to Probe Hard-Liners
            Jakarta Globe - June 29, 2010

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