INDONESIA MUSLIM CLERIC HATE!
Top Indonesian Muslim Scholar Says Stop Pretending That Orthodox Islam and Violence Aren't Linked
Sep 07, 2017
Indonesia, the world’s biggest Muslim-majority country, has a
constitution that recognizes other major religions, and practices a
syncretic form of Islam that draws on not just the faith’s tenets but
local spiritual and cultural traditions. As a result, the nation has
long been a voice of, and for, moderation in the Islamic world.
Yet Indonesia is not without its radical elements. Though most are on
the fringe, they can add up to a significant number given Indonesia’s
260-million population. In the early 2000s, the country was terrorized
by Jemaah Islamiyah(JI), a homegrown extremist organization allied with
al-Qaeda. JI’s deadliest attack was the 2002 Bali bombing that killed
202 people. While JI has been neutralized, ISIS has claimed
responsibility for recent, smaller terrorist incidents in the country
and has inspired some Indonesians to fight in Syria — Indonesians who
could pose a threat when they return home. The country has also seen
the rise of hate groups that preach intolerance and violence against
local religious and ethnic minorities, which include Shia and Ahmadiya
Among Indonesia’s most influential Islamic leaders is Yahya Cholil
Staquf, 51,advocates a modern, moderate Islam. He is general secretary
of the Nahdlatul Ulama, which, with about 50 million members, is the
country’s biggest Muslim organization. Yahya. This interview, notable
for Yahya’s candor, was first published on Aug. 19 in German in
Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. Here are excerpts translated from the
original Bahasa Indonesia into English.
Many Western politicians and intellectuals say that Islamist terrorism has nothing to do with Islam. What is your view?
Western politicians should stop pretending that extremism and terrorism
have nothing to do with Islam. There is a clear relationship between
fundamentalism, terrorism, and the basic assumptions of Islamic
orthodoxy. So long as we lack consensus regarding this matter, we
cannot gain victory over fundamentalist violence within Islam.
Radical Islamic movements are nothing new. They’ve appeared again and
again throughout our own history in Indonesia. The West must stop
ascribing any and all discussion of these issues to “Islamophobia.” Or
do people want to accuse me — an Islamic scholar — of being an
What basic assumptions within traditional Islam are problematic?
The relationship between Muslims and non-Muslims, the relationship of
Muslims with the state, and Muslims’ relationship to the prevailing
legal system wherever they live … Within the classical tradition, the
relationship between Muslims and non-Muslims is assumed to be one of
segregation and enmity.
Perhaps there were reasons for this during the Middle Ages, when the
tenets of Islamic orthodoxy were established, but in today’s world such
a doctrine is unreasonable. To the extent that Muslims adhere to this
view of Islam, it renders them incapable of living harmoniously and
peacefully within the multi-cultural, multi-religious societies of the
A Western politician would likely be accused of racism for saying what you just said.
I’m not saying that Islam is the only factor causing Muslim minorities
in the West to lead a segregated existence, often isolated from society
as a whole. There may be other factors on the part of the host nations,
such as racism, which exists everywhere in the world. But traditional
Islam — which fosters an attitude of segregation and enmity toward
non-Muslims — is an important factor.
And Muslims and the state?
Within the Islamic tradition, the state is a single, universal entity
that unites all Muslims under the rule of one man who leads them in
opposition to, and conflict with, the non-Muslim world.
So the call by radicals to establish a caliphate, including by ISIS, is not un-Islamic?
No, it is not. [ISIS’s] goal of establishing a global caliphate stands
squarely within the orthodox Islamic tradition. But we live in a world
of nation-states. Any attempt to create a unified Islamic state in the
21st century can only lead to chaos and violence ... Many Muslims
assume there is an established and immutable set of Islamic laws, which
are often described as shariah. This assumption is in line with Islamic
tradition, but it of course leads to serious conflict with the legal
system that exists in secular nation-states.
Any [fundamentalist] view of Islam positing the traditional norms of
Islamic jurisprudence as absolute [should] be rejected out of hand as
false. State laws [should] have precedence.
How can that be accomplished?
Generations ago, we achieved a de facto consensus in Indonesia that
Islamic teachings must be contextualized to reflect the ever-changing
circumstances of time and place. The majority of Indonesian Muslims
were — and I think still are — of the opinion that the various
assumptions embedded within Islamic tradition must be viewed within the
historical, political and social context of their emergence in the
Middle Ages [in the Middle East] and not as absolute injunctions that
must dictate Muslims’ behavior in the present … Which ideological
opinions are “correct” is not determined solely by reflection and
debate. These are struggles [about who and what is recognized as
religiously authoritative]. Political elites in Indonesia routinely
employ Islam as a weapon to achieve their worldly objectives.
Is it so elsewhere too?
Too many Muslims view civilization, and the peaceful co-existence of
people of different faiths, as something they must combat. Many
Europeans can sense this attitude among Muslims.
There’s a growing dissatisfaction in the West with respect to Muslim
minorities, a growing fear of Islam. In this sense, some Western
friends of mine are “Islamophobic.” They’re afraid of Islam. To be
honest, I understand their fear … The West cannot force Muslims to
adopt a moderate interpretation of Islam. But Western politicians
should stop telling us that fundamentalism and violence have nothing to
do with traditional Islam. That is simply wrong.
They don’t want to foster division in their societies between Muslims
and non-Muslims, nor contribute to intolerance against Muslims.
I share this desire — that’s a primary reason I’m speaking so frankly.
But the approach you describe won’t work. If you refuse to acknowledge
the existence of a problem, you can’t begin to solve it. One must
identify the problem and explicitly state who and what are responsible
Who and what are responsible?
Over the past 50 years, Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states have spent
massively to promote their ultra-conservative version of Islam
worldwide. After allowing this to go unchallenged for so many decades,
the West must finally exert decisive pressure upon the Saudis to cease
this behavior ... I admire Western, especially European, politicians.
Their thoughts are so wonderfully humanitarian. But we live in a time
when you have to think and act realistically.
The last time I was in Brussels I witnessed some Arab, perhaps North
African, youth insult and harass a group of policemen. My Belgian
friends remarked that such behavior has become an almost everyday
occurrence in their country. Why do you allow such behavior? What kind
if impression does that make? Europe, and Germany in particular, are
accepting massive numbers of refugees. Don’t misunderstand me: of
course you cannot close your eyes to those in need. But the fact
remains that you’re taking in millions of refugees about whom you know
virtually nothing, except that they come from extremely problematic
regions of the world.
I would guess that you and I agree that there is a far right wing in
Western societies that would reject even a moderate, contextualized
And there's an extreme left wing whose adherents reflexively denounce
any and all talk about the connections between traditional Islam,
fundamentalism and violence as de facto proof of Islamophobia. This
must end. A problem that is not acknowledged cannot be solved.
Cleric jailed four years for funding terrorist training camp
Jun 30, 2015
The Straits Times
Radical cleric Afief Abdul Madjid has been sentenced to four years'
jail for funding a terrorist paramilitary training camp in Aceh, but
was acquitted of joining the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS)
group and spreading its violent ideology for lack of evidence.
The Central Jakarta District Court handed down the jail sentence
yesterday, which was half the eight-year sentence that the state
prosecution had demanded.
Afief was indicted under the 2003 anti-terrorism law that can punish
anyone for creating public fear, conspiring to carry out terror
activities or funding terror activities.
In their arguments, the prosecutors pointed out that ISIS carried out
killings amid other violent acts and was declared a terrorist group by
the Indonesian government in November last year.
Yesterday, the court found 63-year-old Afief guilty of giving 25
million rupiah (S$2,500) to a man named Ubaid that went towards the
Aceh paramilitary camp, which was raided in 2010.
In acquitting him of the charge of joining ISIS and spreading its
violent ideology back home, the three-judge panel said there was not
enough evidence to show that he had joined ISIS or pledged allegiance
"The prosecutors accused the defendant of joining military training,
pledging allegiance to ISIS and spreading the ideology, but this was
not convincingly proven during the trial," presiding judge Mas'ud, who
goes by one name, said yesterday.
But just minutes after the court acquitted Afief of the ISIS-related
charge, one of his supporters shouted "Daulah Islamiyah, Merdeka!" or
"Freedom for the Islamic State!".
More than 25 Afief supporters who were in court also shouted "Allahu
Akbar" (God is great) while the judge was reading out the verdict. One
of them, Mr Umar Abdul Azis, 50, told The Straits Times: "The verdict
is a form of oppression on cleric Afief who is just a religious
Afief is the first Indonesian to be have been tried for involvement in
ISIS-related activity. He was arrested in August last year in Bekasi,
West Java and his trial began in mid-February.
Mr Suroyo, one of the prosecutors, told The Straits Times that they plan to appeal against the jail sentence and the acquittal.
He said the prosecution had produced witnesses, including a
humanitarian agency official who helped arrange Afief's trip to Syria
and a jailed cleric who, together with Afief, had been speakers at a
forum in Central Java to promote ISIS.
Radical Indonesian cleric arrested in terror plot
By NINIEK KARMINI (AP)
August 9, 2010
Indonesia — Indonesia's anti-terrorism unit arrested a radical Islamist
cleric Monday for alleged ties to an al-Qaida-affiliated cell accused
of plotting high-profile assassinations and Mumbai-style attacks
targeting foreigners in Jakarta.
Bakar Bashir, who has been arrested twice before and spent several
years in jail, arrived at the national police headquarters under tight
United States is behind this!" shouted the white-bearded cleric, who
was wearing his traditional flowing white robe. "This arrest is a
blessing ... I will be rewarded by Allah!"
fiery 72-year-old is best known as one of the co-founders and spiritual
head of Jemaah Islamiyah, the al-Qaida-linked network responsible for a
string of suicide bombings in the world's most populous Muslim nation,
including the 2002 attacks on Bali island that killed 202 people, most
of them Western tourists.
has long denied links to terrorism. He was one of the founders of
al-Mukmin boarding school in the Central Java town of Solo that
produced some of the country's deadliest bombers.
arrest was the first time Bashir was directly linked to planning
terrorist attacks instead of merely inspiring them with his
anti-Western rhetoric calling for Islamic theocracy, said police
spokesman Maj. Gen. Edward Aritonang. He accused the preacher of
helping set up and fund a new terror cell in westernmost Aceh province.
arrest in Ciamis, a district in West Java province, is the latest in a
series of raids targeting al-Qaida in Aceh since authorities discovered
the cell's jihadi training camp in February. More than 60 suspects have
been arrested — including five on Sunday — and several large caches of
assault weapons, ammunition and explosives have been seized.
Aritonang, the police spokesman, said Bashir was heavily involved with the group.
routinely received reports from their field coordinator," he said. "He
also played an active role in preparing the initial plans for their
The spokesman said that police have one week to file official charges.
overwhelming majority of Indonesians are moderate Muslims who reject
violence, but a small extremist fringe has gained strength in recent
years. Bashir is considered by many to be a driving force for radical
served 2 1/2 years in jail for allegedly giving his blessing to the
Bali bombers, but his conviction was later overturned. After his
release in 2006, he started holding sermons nationwide calling for the
creation of an Islamic state and spewing hatred toward foreigners.
Bashir formed a new radical movement, Jemaah Ansharut Tauhid, or JAT,
described by the Brussels-based International Crisis Group as an
"ostensibly above-ground organization" that embraced individuals with
known ties to fugitive extremists.
came under renewed police scrutiny in May after three JAT members were
arrested for allegedly raising funds for al-Qaida in Aceh.
cell was accused of planning gun attacks on luxury hotels in the
capital in an alleged plot reminiscent of the attacks in India's
financial center of Mumbai, where 10 gunmen rampaged through the city
in 2008 and killed 166 people.
was planning several high-profile assassinations, including on
President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, who said over the weekend that
authorities had discovered yet another plot on his life.
Ken Conboy, an expert on Southeast Asian terror groups, called Bashir's arrest significant.
have made tremendous headway in dismantling what was once JI and its
remaining cell structures," said Conboy, adding this was another big
step in that direction. "The next step is to take a close look at their
rehabilitation efforts, where they've really been stumbling in recent
More than a dozen suspected members of al-Qaida in Aceh arrested by police were former convicts.
Bashir's son, Abdul Rohim, insisted his father, who went to Ciamis for a preaching engagement, was innocent.
was heading back to Solo when police arrested him together with my
mother," he said. "We appeal police to treat my parents well... He was
just carrying out his obligations as a Muslim."
last suicide bombing at the J.W. Marriott and Ritz Carlton hotels in
Jakarta ended a four-year lull in attacks blamed on Jemaah Islamiyah
and its affiliates. Since 2002, more than 260 people have died in
terrorist attacks, many of them foreign tourists.
Associated Press Writer Ali Kotarumalos contributed to this report from Jakarta.
Militant Islamic cleric blasts U.S., Australia upon release from Indonesian
Indonesia (AP) — A militant cleric walked free from prison Wednesday to the
cheers of supporters after serving 26 months in prison for conspiracy in the
2002 Bali bombings, and he accused the United States of terrorism in Iraq and
Abu Bakar Bashir was surrounded by
personal security guards as he left Jakarta's Cipinang prison
Bashir, 68, was found guilty of blessing
the 2002 Bali attacks, in which 202 people were killed, but cleared of more
serious terrorist charges, including heading the al-Qaeda-linked militant group
Jemaah Islamiyah. No evidence has ever been presented linking him to the
execution, preparation or commission of terrorist attacks.
The United States and Australia, which
have accused the firebrand cleric of being a key member of Jemaah Islamiyah,
said they were disappointed at his release.
Bashir's followers shouted "God is
great!" as he left the prison. He headed immediately to an Islamic school
notorious for producing some of Southeast Asia's deadliest terrorists, where he
again received a hero's welcome.
Bashir was quick to point his finger at
the United States and Australia, calling their leaders "infidels."
"The United States is a state terrorist
because it is waging war against Muslims in Iraq and Afghanistan," he said,
while stopping at a roadside mosque on the way to the central Javanese city of
Solo, a 10-hour journey by road and home to the al-Mukmin boarding school.
Jemaah Islamiyah is accused of carrying
out church bombings across Indonesia in 2000, the 2002 bombings on the resort
island of Bali, attacks in the capital Jakarta in 2003 and 2004, and a triple
suicide bombing on Bali last October. The attacks together killed more than 260
people and have thrust the world's most populous Muslim nation onto the front
line of the war on terror.
Victims of the 2002 bombings said they
were disappointed to see Bashir go free.
"It's hard to imagine how a leader of a
gang ... can get only two years for orchestrating to kill 200 people and
injuring many more," said Australian Peter Hughes, 46, who suffered burns to 56%
of his body in the attack. "It doesn't make sense."
Australian Brian Deegan, whose
21-year-old son, Josh, died in the bombings, called Bashir's sentence
Bashir's freedom has raised concerns that
he will energize Indonesia's small, Islamic radical fringe by making impassioned
speeches at rallies and mosques, but few believe the soft-spoken cleric will
play any direct role in terrorism.
"I think he will reinforce anti-Western
feelings, but I don't think he'll necessary push people over the line from
radical rhetoric to violence," said Sidney Jones, the leading international
expert on Jemaah Islamiyah.
Before the Bali blasts, Bashir was
chiefly known for his vocal support of moves to make the secular country an
Islamic state and his criticism of U.S. policy toward Muslim countries — themes
he pounded on again Wednesday.
Upon arriving in Solo, Bashir stopped
briefly at a hospital for a checkup and then went to the al-Mukmin boarding
school he founded in 1972, where nearly 500 students greeted him, some pumping
their fists in the air and cheering "God is great!"
Several graduates are in prison for
involvement in terrorism and at least two others became suicide attackers, but
Bashir — who has long said he opposes violence — told the youths that those who
carried out the bombings "were wrong."
He urged them to follow his lead and use
words to fight for their faith.
"The more bombs there are in Indonesia,
the happier the United States will be," he said. "They will clap their hands,
because what they're afraid of are sermons, the preaching of Islam."
He vowed to continue campaigning for the
introduction of strict Islamic law in Indonesia, which has 190 million Muslims.
The State Department expressed deep
disappointment about what it called Bashir's light sentence. Spokesman Sean
McCormack said the court concluded he was a participant in "a sinister
conspiracy to cause a fire or explosion resulting in deaths."
But, he said, it is up to Indonesians and
their courts to interpret their own laws.
Australian Prime Minister John Howard
said he, too, felt disillusioned at Bashir's release. Eighty-eight of those
killed in the 2002 nightclub blasts on Bali were Australian.
"Many Australians will see that
particular outcome ... as an extremely disappointing result," Howard told
Parliament, adding that he shared that sentiment.
Indonesia, which has arrested and
convicted more than 150 militants in recent years, three of whom were sentenced
to death, rejected any suggestion that it was a weak link in the fight against
"As he has served his sentence, I hope
other countries will not politicize this," said Foreign Minister Hassan Wirajuda.
Bashir calls for jihad against Israel
August 06, 2006
Indonesians held street rallies today to condemn Israel's offensive in the
Middle East as hardline cleric Abu Bakar Bashir called for a "jihad" force to
battle the Jewish state.
In Jakarta, the capital of
the world's most populous Muslim nation, more than 3000 people protested outside
the UN mission over its failure to halt the violence.
"So far, there are no signs that the United
Nations is acting justly as an international institution," Muslim leader Dien
Syamsuddin told the crowd.
"We press the Indonesian Government to
mobilise solidarity among peace-loving nations in the world to pressure the
United Nations to halt the Israeli aggression.
"If the United Nations does nothing because
it is influenced by the superpower, America, we call on the government of
Indonesia to initiate a vote of non-confidence against the United Nations," said
Mr Syamsuddin, who is a deputy chairman of Muhammadiyah, Indonesia's second
largest Islamic movement.
The demonstrators had gathered earlier for an
inter-religious rally and later marched to the US embassy. The heads of various
religions – Islam, Roman Catholicism, Protestants and Buddhists – led the
"Give a Chance to Peace" and Save Children,
No War," some of the banners read.
The crowd dubbed Israel "the aggressor" and
the US "terrorist".
"Israel should be taken to the International
Court of Justice because it has killed a lot of children and women," said a
deputy chairman of the Indonesian Council of Ulema, Amidhan.
One group displayed a poster reading "Condemn
the sadistical and inhuman actions of Israel, USA and the mayor of west
They were victims of evictions ordered by the
Bashir, speaking at mass prayers in support
of Lebanon and Palestine, called on the Government to let Indonesians join the
fight against Israel.
Bashir told some 1000 people in the Central
Java town of Pekalongan that Jakarta should try to mobilise a mujahideen force
from member countries of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference.
"If it cannot ... at least open the door for
citizens who want to engage in jihad (holy war) there," he said.
Bashir was sentenced to 30 months for his
role in a "sinister conspiracy" that led to the 2002 Bali bombings, which left
202 people dead, including 88 Australians. He was released from prison in June.
Yesterday a group called the Asian Muslim
Youth Movement said it was prepared to send hardliners to attack Jewish
interests in countries that back Israel.
In Indonesia's second largest city, Surabaya,
around 1500 Muslims held a protest march, El Shinta radio reported. In the city
of Yogyakarta, it said, about 3000 people joined protests.
A similar protest involving hundreds of
people took place in Medan.
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