[Marinir] ASIAN HEROES: Agus Bambang Priyanto
Yap Hong Gie
ouwehoer at centrin.net.id
Tue Oct 10 09:22:43 CEST 2006
TIMEasia: ASIAN HEROES
Agus Bambang Priyanto
Fighting terrorism with faith and tolerance
By Jason Tedjasukmana Kuta
Measured by the numbers, last October's bombings in Bali, which claimed 202
lives, were catastrophic.
Yet terror seeks not only to kill but also to divide, to turn people against
one another based, in this case, on their religious beliefs.
Resisting the pressure to abandon tolerant humanism for puritanical dogma
requires great strength.
But to hold a community together, to heal it? Only a heroic effort will
When Haji Agus Bambang Priyanto heard the first explosion in Kuta, he rushed
to the scene.
As the town's traffic chief and a man who prepares corpses for burial at his
local mosque, he felt he could offer needed skills. And as a Muslim native
to an island where majority Hindus and minority Muslims live and work
together, he wanted to help. He found chaos.
Fires still burned, bodies littered the ground, and the injured wailed in
"People were standing like deer in the headlights," says Wayan Juniarta, the
Jakarta Post's Bali correspondent.
"Haji Bambang plunged right in." He established access routes for ambulances
and enlisted an Islamic community group to search for survivors. He
collected sheets to wrap bodies pulled from the wreckage, trying to keep
them from falling apart in his hands.
All this, says General I Made Mangku Pastika, who headed the subsequent
police investigation, "without being asked and without expecting anything in
return." At dawn, using newspaper as a prayer mat, Haji Bambang prayed that
the dead would be welcomed into the afterlife by their own gods.
As traumatic as the event itself was the discovery that the perpetrators-
Jemaah Islamiah extremists-were Muslim.
"I couldn't understand why anyone would do this or how they could do it in
the name of Islam," he says.
In his mind, they are cowards representative of a small group of zealots,
not a religion.
Since that night, Haji Bambang and other community leaders have worked to
ensure that their island remains a place of harmony.
As the Muslim delegate to the Forum for Harmonious Religious Relations, he
regularly meets with Hindus, Christians and Buddhists to discuss and promote
This is Haji Bambang's "counterterrorism" effort, inspired by a gentle heart
that was strong enough to survive a hellacious assault.
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