[Nasional-m] Hard-line groups told to emulate Laskar Jihad's move

Ambon nasional-m@polarhome.com
Thu, 17 Oct 2002 23:18:52 +0200

The Jakarta Post
Oct. 18, 2002

Hard-line groups told to emulate Laskar Jihad's move

JAKARTA (JP): Muslim scholars have hailed Laskar Jihad's decision to disband
itself and urged other hard-line organizations to follow suit or have the
authorities disperse them in order to stop the renewed violence, which is
often blamed on them.
"We congratulate them (Laskar Jihad). They have made the right decision.
Their existence was a bad example of Indonesian Islam," Ahmad Syafi'i
Ma'arif, chairman of the nation's second largest Muslim organization,
Muhammadiyah, told The JakartaPost on Thursday.
He said a paramilitary organization should not be given a place in the
world's largest Muslim country as its presence tarnished Islam.
Azyumardi Azra, rector of Jakarta's Syarif Hidayatullah State Islamic
University (UIN), and another Muslim scholar, Ulil Abshar Abdalla of the
country's largest Muslim organization, NahdlatulUlama (NU), also hailed the
voluntary dissolution of Laskar Jihad.
"I welcome it because its presence had sparked polemics and controversy
among the public," Azyumardi said.
Laskar Jihad "tended to enforce its own law" for its members and other
Indonesians in this secular state of more than 200 million people, made up
of mostly moderate Muslims, he said, adding that it was in violation of the
country's prevailing laws.
"I am glad to hear it (dissolution)," Ulil told thePost separately.
Syafi'i, Ulil and Azyumardi called on similar Islamic militant groups, such
as the Islam Defenders Front (FPI), and other pseudo-military organizations
affiliated with political parties and others, to also break up.
"The government should disband them, although it would be better if they
broke up," Azyumardi said.
Syafii said all paramilitary organizations, particularly those abusing Islam
as their "political commodity", should be dissolved.
Ulil said he disagrees with the authorities breaking up hard-line groups as
the move would go against freedom of association.
"What the government needs to do is strictly enforce the law against any
members involved in violence. They should not be shown any leniency before
the law," he added.
Laskar Jihad sent thousands of volunteers to help Muslims fight Christians
in Maluku during three years of bloody sectarian conflict, which only ceased
early this year.
The group dissolved itself amid the intense hunt for terrorists blamed for
Saturday's bomb attack on the resort island of Bali, which killed at least
183 people, mostly foreigners.
Its leader, Ja'far Umar Thalib, said the group's breakup was decided on Oct.
6, but in fact Laskar Jihad had just shut down its headquarters in
Yogyakarta last Tuesday, three days after theBali blast.
Ja'far denied the dissolution was linked to the terrorist attack on Bali,
saying instead that the move was made partially because Laskar Jihad
activists had begun to become involved in practical politics.
Ulil dismissed Ja'far's reasons, saying he believed the Bali bombings had
forced the group to disperse.
"The tragedy would further undermine its existence due to incessant national
and international pressure against the group. If they (its members) tried to
resist, they would be finished," Ulil added.