Pressure on the government and police to disband the FPI, Islamic Defenders Front is growing as the FPI and parts of the Nahdlatul Ulama are engaged in a running battle.
Hundreds of supporters of Abdurrahman "Gus Dur" Wahid rallied on Friday to demand the government disband the militant Islamic Defenders Front (FPI), or the Front Pembela Islam, which disrupted an appearance by the former president at an interfaith meeting a few days ago. Gus Dur's fanatical supporters demonstrated at the National Police Headquarters in South Jakarta and at the FPI's office in Slipi, Central Jakarta. Police kept tight control over the demonstration to prevent violence.
While in the East Java town of Jember, hundreds of FPI militia members clashed with members of Garda Bangsa, a paramilitary group affiliated with the National Awakening Party, although no serious injuries were reported.
Tension between the groups has escalated after FPI members forced Gus Dur off the stage at a meeting on Tuesday in Purwakarta, West Java. They denounced his opposition to the controversial pornography bill, which is supported by fundamentalist Islamic groups.
Members of several other militant groups, such as the Majelis Mujahidin and the Hizbut Tahrir, also were reportedly involved in the Purwakarta incident. Gus Dur, a controversial leader of Indonesia's largest Muslim organization Nahdlatul Ulama, is a steadfast advocate of pluralism and has condemned efforts by hardliners to establish a theocratic state. He aroused the particular hostility of militant Muslims, when, in connection with the debate on the morality bill, he having said that the Quran, of all holy books, is the most pornographic, in that it deals with sexual relations in much greater detail than the Bible, for example.
The FPI have slandered Abdurrahman Wahid (Gus Dur), who is our leader, a former president, a national unity symbol and our imam. Their actions cannot be tolerated.
said Garda Bangsa leader Eman Hendarman.
Separately, NU deputy chairman Rozy Munir was reported by the Jakarta Post to have said that the police should have taken strict action against FPI members long time ago.
Violent acts should not be tolerated. They do not represent Muslims as they claim to do.
Garda Bangsa was joined by about 200 people grouped in the Alliance for an Antiviolent Society, the NU's paramilitary force Banser and Christian youth organizations at police headquarters.
We demand the police enforce the law. Violent organizations that wage terror and criminal acts have to be stopped
Eman said, and:.
We didn't notify Gus Dur about this protest. He would have objected to this because he is a man of peace and wouldn't approve of any actions that could incite violence.
The protesters submitted a petition to the police listing alleged violent acts committed by the FPI. National Police spokesman Brigadier General Anton Bachrul Alam promised the police would look into the protesters' claims and discuss them with legislators.
We listen and consider all the complaints. If it is proven that it (the FPI) has caused civil unrest and poses a threat to the public, of course we can disband it.
At around 3 p.m. protesters moved to the FPI headquarters in Slipi area. At Petamburan, some 150 FPI members were joined by about 300 members of the Betawi Brotherhood Forum, who carried wooden sticks, sharpened bamboo and chains.
FPI and Betawi Brotherhood Forum on the warpath.
To avoid a confrontation between the two mobs, the police redirected Gus Dur's supporters when they reached Slipi. FPI leader Habib Riziq told reporters that the Purwakarta incident should not be "exaggerated" and refused to apologize, as demanded by Gus Dur's supporters.
He said the FPI would defend the pornography bill and would ask police to protect them in their efforts. Riziq said Gus Dur's appearance in Purwakarta had "hurt the feelings of every Muslim".