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Posts tagged ‘Islamic Land of Indonesia’

Indonesia blasphemy protest swells to crowd of 200,000

December 02, 2016

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — At least 200,000 conservative Muslims rallied in the Indonesian capital on Friday in the second major protest in a month against its minority Christian governor who is being prosecuted for alleged blasphemy.

President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo, who is a political ally of the Jakarta governor, Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama, and angered hard-liners by being out of the city during the first protest, unexpectedly went to the national monument to join Friday prayers with the sprawling crowd. He called for protesters to disperse peacefully. They cheered and then broke into chants calling for Ahok’s arrest, but later people were streaming peacefully out of the area into a main thoroughfare of the city.

Organizers had agreed to concentrate the protest around the vaulting monument to reduce disruptions but the area quickly overflowed. National Police spokesman Rikwanto, who goes by one name, said police estimated 200,000 people were on the streets. Police say 22,000 officers and 5,000 soldiers can be called on to ensure the demonstration stays orderly.

A protest Nov. 4 against Ahok, the first ethnic Chinese to be Jakarta governor and the first Christian in half a century, attracted about 100,000 people. After nightfall, it turned violent, with one death and dozens injured. Police want Friday’s protest to disperse in the early afternoon following prayers.

The crowds massed in the area of the national monument formed a sea of white that spilled into surrounding streets while gridlocked motorists sat on the sidewalks. Some held huge banners calling Ahok a blasphemer who should be jailed while others chanted and prayed. The blasphemy controversy erupted in September when a video circulated online in which Ahok criticized detractors who argued the Quran prohibits Muslims from having a non-Muslim leader.

It has challenged the image of Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim nation, as practicing a moderate form of Islam and has shaken the government of Jokowi, who accused unnamed political actors of trying to undermine him. The son of former president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono is vying against Ahok for Jakarta governor in elections set for February.

Separately, police said they had arrested eight people suspected of treason including Rahmawati, who is a younger sister of former President Megawati Sukarnoiputri, and a well-known musician turned politician Ahmad Dani. Two other people were arrested for alleged crimes under Indonesia’s law on electronic information and transactions.

Lisnawati Djohar, a resident of West Sumatra’s Padang city, said she flew to Jakarta with a dozen friends for the protest. “I’ve been called to defend Islam,” she said. “As a Muslim, I feel guilty if I refuse a demand to defend my religion. I believe Ahok insulted the holy Quran and it’s hurt us.”

Rizieq Syihab, leader of the Islamic Defenders Front, a vigilante group that helped organize the demonstrations, gave a fiery speech to the protest in which he asserted Indonesia would be peaceful if there was no blasphemy and other problems such as gays.

Roads leading into the city were clogged in the early morning as white-robed protesters walked to the city center from corners of the sprawling metropolis. Speaking on the main stage at the national monument, National Police Chief Gen. Tito Karnavian called for the protesters to support the legal process in the blasphemy case.

“We have worked to finalize the dossier and have handed over to the prosecutors. Therefore, I request support from all of you so that the legal process goes well,” he said as the crowd cheered “God is Great.”

The accusation of blasphemy has animated the political opponents of Ahok and Jokowi, including hard-liners who have used the issue to seize a national stage for their extreme agenda, which includes Shariah law.

Ahok’s blasphemy case took a step forward Thursday when it was formally accepted for trial. The offense is punishable by up to five years in prison. Police say Ahok can’t leave the country during the case. However, hard-line Muslim groups continue to demand he be arrested.

Indonesia protests awaken fears for minority Chinese

November 30, 2016

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — The capital of Muslim-majority Indonesia is on edge ahead of what is expected to be a second massive protest by conservative Muslims against its Christian governor and no group more so than its Chinese minority.

They have reason to be concerned. The movement against the governor, who is being prosecuted for allegedly insulting the Quran, has overflowed with racial slurs against his Chinese ancestry, an unnerving sign in a country with a history of lashing out violently against the ethnic minority that makes up 1 percent of its 250 million people.

The first major protest against Gov. Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama on Nov. 4 drew more than 100,000 people to Jakarta’s streets. Some held up banners calling for Ahok to be killed or decrying Chinese influence. It ended in violence, with one death and dozens injured after hard-liners attacked police. A separate mob tried to invade the apartment complex where Ahok lives in the north of the city and vandalized property in the area, which is home to many Chinese.

Hard-line organizers of the protest, who were unsatisfied by a police decision earlier this month to formally name Ahok as a suspect in the blasphemy case instead of arresting him, are promising another giant rally on Friday. After police pressure, they have agreed to concentrate the rally around a national monument in central Jakarta and insist it will be peaceful.

The furor over Ahok, sparked by his criticism of detractors who argued the Quran prohibits Muslims from having a non-Muslim leader, has highlighted religious and racial fault lines in Indonesia, the world’s most populous nation, and the growing challenge from proponents of Shariah law to its secular system of government.

For Chinese Indonesians, the controversy has awakened painful memories of the mass protests that ousted late dictator Suharto during the 1998 Asian financial crisis. Boiling resentment against immigrant Chinese tycoons who profited from ties to Suharto and his famously corrupt family spilled over into mob attacks on Chinese property and people, killing many. Nearly two decades later, Jakarta’s Chinatown is still scarred by the burned out shells of buildings torched in the chaos.

“Certainly as Chinese descendants, we are still traumatized by the riots in 1998,” said Clement Alexander, a grocery store owner in a narrow lane of the bustling Petak Sembilan market in Chinatown. “We heard that horrible event may happen again if the government fails to control the protests. It’s scared us, but we cannot do anything except pray,” he said.

“For rich ethnic Chinese, they could flee to Singapore or to other countries, but for lower-class people like me it is rather difficult, we just survive and depend on the government for protection.” When Ahok in 2012 became the first Chinese to be elected deputy governor of Jakarta, and the first Christian in half a century, it was seen as a sign of the pluralistic tolerance fostered by the moderate form of Islam practiced in Indonesia.

But his rise to governor in 2014 to replace political ally Joko “Jokowi” Widodo after his election as president was unpalatable to hard-liners. With the support of moderates that hope to gain from Ahok’s fall, they have elevated their agenda to the national stage, and revealed that intolerant interpretations of Islam adapted from the Middle East have made greater inroads than believed.

Ahok is running for a second term as governor in elections due in February but since the blasphemy accusations erupted in September, his sky-high popularity in opinion polls has melted away. A pro-tolerance rally in Jakarta on Nov. 19 attracted less than 10,000 people. A military-organized event in the city on Wednesday meant to showcase respect for all of Indonesia’s six officially recognized religions was mainly populated by soldiers, schoolchildren and police, who had no choice about attending.

For the Nov. 4 protest, the normally clogged streets of Jakarta were nearly emptied of cars, embassies closed, countries such as Australia issued advisories against travel to the city and many businesses shuttered for the day, particularly in Chinatown.

“We are afraid the riots in 1998 would be repeated. But I don’t want to talk about that horrible event,” said Jhony Tan, owner of a store selling Buddhist worship paraphernalia. “I hope the government can handle this issue, so there’s no negative impact to any other community, especially to ethnic Chinese here. If they fail, Indonesia will be ruined,” he said. “I’m sure the majority of Indonesian people are willing to see that this problem has nothing to do with us.”

Christianto Wibisono, an ethnic Chinese businessman and former government adviser whose home was burned in the 1998 riots, said that despite communal tensions, he is hopeful the government will maintain calm during Friday’s protest and beyond.

The government’s approach needs to sap the momentum of a vocal and highly motivated minority but faces challenges: the moderate, silent majority is intimidated by the hard-liners’ tactics and months of campaigning for the Jakarta gubernatorial election as well as Ahok’s blasphemy trial will keep divisive issues in the spotlight.

“Now is really the crucial test for Indonesia to maintain the country’s secular philosophy rather than be run over by Shariah groups. That would affect the whole world, if Indonesia became like the Middle East,” he said. “We should not import Middle East extremism. We should export our moderate Islamic philosophy and pluralism.”

Associated Press writer Niniek Karmini contributed to this report.

Jakarta rally calls for tolerance after blasphemy probe

November 20, 2016

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — More than 10,000 Indonesians took to the streets of their capital to call for tolerance and unity in the world’s most populous Muslim nation, after police opened a blasphemy investigation into the city’s Christian governor.

Earlier this month, Jakarta was rocked by a massive protest by conservative Muslims against the popular Gov. Asuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama, with one person killed and dozens injured in rioting. Hard-liners have threatened more protests if Ahok isn’t arrested.

Police last week named Ahok as a suspect in the blasphemy investigation. The rally Saturday attracted more than 10,000 people, including religious leaders, legislators and members of human rights groups, who marched at the National Monument and along nearby main streets.

“We are gathering here not to protest but to show that we are not easily divided by religious or political issues,” said Budiman Sujatmiko, a legislator from the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle, the country’s largest political group.

The crowd, many waving the red-and-white national flag, cheered and chanted “United Indonesia cannot not be defeated.” The Islamic Defenders Front, a vigilante group that wants to impose Shariah law in secular Indonesia, began demanding Ahok’s arrest after a video circulated online in which he joked to an audience about a passage in the Quran that could be interpreted as prohibiting Muslims from accepting non-Muslims as leaders. The governor has apologized for the comment.

Blasphemy is a criminal offense in Indonesia. Amnesty International documented 106 convictions between 2004 and 2014, with some individuals imprisoned for up to five years. Ahok is the second Christian governor of Jakarta since Indonesia declared independence in 1945, and the first ethnic Chinese to run the sprawling, chaotic city. He is popular with the city’s middle class, but has made enemies from a tough stance against corruption and an urban program that has evicted thousands of the city’s poorest from slums.

Indonesia president cancels trip abroad after deadly protest

November 05, 2016

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — Indonesian President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo on Saturday canceled a visit to Australia after a massive rally in the capital by Muslim hard-liners descended into violence, leaving one dead and nearly 200 injured.

The Foreign Affairs Ministry said that Jokowi’s trip scheduled from Sunday to Tuesday will be rescheduled because “current development has required the president to stay in Indonesia.” Jokowi addressed the nation late Friday after clashes broke out between police and hard-liners who refused to disperse and demanded the arrest of Jakarta’s minority-Christian governor for alleged blasphemy.

National police spokesman Boy Rafli Amar told a news conference Saturday that one elderly man died from asthma attack after being exposed to tear gas, and more than 90 police and soldiers were injured, eight of them seriously. He said that about 160 protesters were hurt from tear gas effects, including four who were hospitalized.

Jokowi blamed “political actors” for taking advantage of the rally. He didn’t elaborate, but his predecessor Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono had backed plans for the protest, drew tens of thousands of people.

The accusation of blasphemy against Jakarta Gov. Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama, an ethnic Chinese and minority Christian who is an ally of Jokowi, has galvanized Jokowi’s political opponents in the Muslim-majority nation of 250 million, and given a notorious group of hard-liners a national stage.

The Islamic Defenders Front, a vigilante group that wants to impose Shariah law, is demanding Ahok’s arrest after a video circulated online in which he joked to an audience about a passage in the Quran that could be interpreted as prohibiting Muslims from accepting non-Muslims as leaders. The governor has apologized for the comment and met with police.

Amar said the situation became uncontrollable when protesters broke through police barricades and security barriers in an attempt to enter the presidential palace before they were stopped by police firing tear gas. Three police and military trucks were burnt down and 18 vehicles damaged in the violence.

He said police are still investigating who was behind the violence and whether any political elements were involved with the aim of creating unrest. Ten people were arrested for allegedly provoking riots near the presidential palace and 15 others for vandalism in northern Jakarta.

Jakarta police spokesman Awi Setiyono said rioting in north Jakarta involved the looting of a convenience store and damage to police vehicles.

Australia, Indonesia mull joint South China Sea patrols

Sydney

Oct 31, 2016

Australia is considering joint patrols with Indonesia in the disputed South China Sea, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said Tuesday, in a move set to irk Beijing.

The possibility was raised by Jakarta during meetings between Bishop and Defense Minister Marise Payne and Indonesian officials including Defense Minister Ryamizard Ryacudu last week.

“We have agreed to explore options to increase maritime cooperation and of course that would include coordinated activities in the South China Sea and the Sulu Sea,” Bishop told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

“This is all consistent with our policy of exercising our right of freedom of navigation and that’s in accordance with international law.”

Ryacudu was cited by the Sydney Morning Herald as saying he had proposed a “peace patrol” with Australia.

“There are no intentions to disrupt the relationship (with China). It is called a peace patrol, it brings peace. It is about protecting fish in each other’s areas,” he said.

Beijing asserts sovereignty over almost all of the resource-rich South China Sea, despite rival claims from its Southeast Asian neighbors — most notably the Philippines, which took the case to the Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration.

The court ruled in July that there was no legal basis to China’s claims — a verdict Beijing dismissed vehemently.

Australia, like staunch ally the United States, has no claims of its own in the area, but insists that all shipping has a right to pass through seas it regards as international waters.

Last month the US sailed a warship near disputed territory in the South China Sea, with Beijing slamming the move as a “serious illegal act” and “deliberately provocative”.

Discussion on potential joint patrols comes amid uncertainty in the region with Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte unsettling Manila’s traditional allies by signalling a shift away from Washington towards Beijing.

Unlike some Southeast Asian neighbors, Jakarta has long maintained it has no maritime disputes with China in the South China Sea and does not contest ownership of reefs or islets there.

But Beijing’s expansive claims overlap Indonesia’s exclusive economic zone — waters where a state has the right to exploit resources — around the Natunas, a remote scattering of islands that are rich fishing grounds.

In June, Indonesian President Joko Widodo toured the islands on a warship, in a move seen as sending a strong message to China to respect Indonesian sovereignty.

Bishop said the Australian navy had already conducted joint exercises in the South China Sea with India and the US as “a regular part of what our navy does and it’s also part of our engagement in the region”.

Source: Space War.

Link: http://www.spacewar.com/reports/Australia_Indonesia_mull_joint_South_China_Sea_patrols_999.html.

Indonesia, Malaysian MPs support democracy in Turkey

16 July 2016 Saturday

Indonesian and Malaysian lawmakers have voiced support for democracy in Turkey after an attempted military coup.

Indonesia’s foreign ministry expressed concern Saturday over the situation in Turkey, as well as hope that the principles of democracy would be upheld.

“Indonesia emphasizes the importance of respect for the constitution and the principle of democratization,” it said in a statement quoted by detik.com.

Meanwhile, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said “we are monitoring the situation in Turkey closely” in a post on his Twitter account.

Leaders of Malaysia’s opposition pact expressed “shock” at the attempted coup late Friday.

“This military attempt to force regime change in Turkey is a blatant disregard for the democratic process and totally undermines the will of the Turkish people,” the Hope Pact said in a statement, underlining its solidarity with Turkey’s president and people.

“We pray for the safety of the Turkish people who are now amassing on the streets as a show of support for democracy,” it underlined. “We also call for a swift end to this attempted military coup, and a calm and restrained response by all sides.”

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had earlier announced that a group within the Turkish military attempted an overthrow of the government.

Tanks drove around the streets of Istanbul late Friday, while warplanes and helicopters flew overhead in the capital Ankara, where bombs exploded at Parliament.

Some pro-coup soldiers attempted to take over state TV channel TRT, block CNN TURK broadcast and cut off TV networks at the ground station of satellite communications agency Turksat in Ankara’s Golbasi district.

Citizens responded to the action by the group, identified by Erdogan as the FETO/PDY terrorist organization, by taking to the streets across Turkey to protest.

The incidents have left at least 90 people dead and more than 1,000 others injured.

Erdogan declared the coup attempt over Saturday from Ataturk Airport in Istanbul, where he vowed to remain until the situation in the country returns to normal.

He also slammed United States-based preacher Fetullah Gulen, who is accused of leading a terrorist organization and attempting to infiltrate and overthrow the democratically-elected government in Turkey.

“It is enough the betrayal you have done to this nation,” Erdogan said, without mentioning Gulen’s name, and called on him to return to his country, where he would face trial.

Source: World Bulletin.

Link: http://www.worldbulletin.net/todays-news/175029/indonesia-malaysian-mps-support-democracy-in-turkey.

Indonesia gets State Dept. approval for missile purchase

Washington (UPI)

Mar 11, 2016

An Indonesian request to purchase AIM-120C-7 Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missiles from the United States has been approved by the State Department.

The proposed deal under the U.S. Foreign Military Sales program is worth about $90 million, said the Defense Security Cooperation Agency, which manages the FMS program.

“The proposed sale improves Indonesia’s capability to deter regional threats and strengthen its homeland defense,” DSCA said in its required notification to Congress. “Indonesia is able to absorb this additional equipment and support into its armed forces.”

The proposed sales package is for 36 AIM-120C-7 AMRAAMs and one Missile Guidance Section. Also included are control section support equipment, spare parts, services, logistics, technical contractor engineering and technical support, and loading adaptors.

The prime contractor for the proposed sale will be determined by competition, DSCA said, and its implementation will not require the assignment of any U.S. government or contractor representatives to Indonesia.

Source: Space War.

Link: http://www.spacewar.com/reports/Indonesia_gets_State_Dept_approval_for_missile_purchase_999.html.

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