Muslim Hate of Chinese


INDONESIA: Chinese Indonesians get hate text messages

Indonesian President urges police to investigate hate messages sent to Chinese Indonesians

Straits Times
Thursday, November 3, 2005

By Devi Asmarani

Jakarta --- Many ethnic Chinese Indonesians have received anonymous text messages threatening them with brutal murders and rapes after the Hari Raya Aidilfitri holidays, raising fears of another major racial riot in the capital.

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono expressed "deep concern" over the messages sent from unregistered cellular pre-paid numbers and ordered security bodies to investigate.

"Such slanderous, hate-filled SMS messages cannot be tolerated... The president has urged police to investigate and take action," presidential spokesman Andi Mallarangeng said yesterday.

President Yudhoyono's wife Kristiani as well as members of the presidential staff had also received some messages, Mr Andi told AFP, but refused to reveal their content.

He also said the police and the National Intelligence Body (BIN) might face an uphill task in tracing the senders.

"Because pre-paid cellphone cards are not registered, it will be difficult for the police and BIN to probe."

Last week, a regulation was issued to require owners of all pre-paid cellphone cards to register themselves by next April.

The senders of the hate messages, circulating for a week now, face charges of spreading malicious rumours and disrupting public order, Mr Andi added.

In the lengthy, vulgar text message, the Chinese Indonesians are accused of being "robbers of Indonesians' money" and "the number one enemies of the Muslims."

"The fuel prices went up because of the Chinese," said part of the message, which blames the Chinese for the people's suffering.

It goes on to threaten the Chinese with death and rape after the Aidilfitri holidays --- which last until Tuesday --- and closes with "Allahu Akbar," the Arabic phrase for "God is Great."

Many Chinese Indonesians said they had been receiving the same message several times from different numbers since last week. Some came to know about the message after their friends forwarded it to them in e-mail.

Ms Lanny, 37, said she received the SMS last Thursday and was shocked by its content.

"It reminded me of those flyers and e-mail containing similar warnings that were circulating months before the May 1998 riots," she told The Straits Times. "We didn't take it seriously then, but it happened."

At least 500 died in those riots.

Seeking to calm the rattled community, Mr Din Syamsuddin, chairman of Indonesia's second-largest Muslim group Muhammadiyah, met ethnic Chinese and minority Christian leaders on Tuesday night.

He told a joint press briefing after the meeting: "I am certain this is a provocative attempt to disrupt religious harmony and the nation's unity. We called on the nation not to be provoked."

Mr Lieus Sungkharisma, chairman of the Tionghoa Indonesian Reform Movement, an NGO representing the Chinese, said: "We are being pitted against each other through issues of religion or ethnicity."

Chinese Indonesians make up less than 5 per cent of Indonesia's mostly-Muslim 224 million population but control more than half the country's economy.

Date Posted: 11/3/2005