JNN 08 Jan 2012 Jakarta : The hate crime against minority Shias took place 29th Dec 2011 , on Madura Island. Ahmadi Muslims have been victims of similar acts in the past at the hand of Wahabi extremists.
A Shia Islamic boarding school (pesantren), Misbahul Hudayah, in Nangkrenang hamlet, Karang Gayam village in Sampang, Madura, was attacked and set ablaze by an unidentified group of people on Thursday.
Indonesia, the world’s largest Muslim country with a Sunni majority, was hit by intra-Muslim sectarian violence. A Wahabi mob set fire to a Shia boarding school (pesantren in Indonesian) yesterday. The school, which included a small mosque, is in Karang Gayam, on Madura, a big island off East Java Province. The province is a stronghold of Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), the country’s largest (moderate) Muslim organisation.
School adviser Iklil al Milal said the perpetrators also burned down his house and the house belonging to the school’s principal, Tajul Muluk.
“I heard this morning rumors that a group of people were going to burn our school building, so I rushed to the school,” Iklil told The Jakarta Post on Thursday.
“I was just about to discuss the issue with the school principal and a few students, when a group of people arrived and burned our school compound.”
Iklil said no-one was injured as they managed to evacuate everyone before the building was attacked.
“The perpetrators were the same people who attacked our school in 2006. They included both local villagers and people from outside,” he said, “We have received threats and intimidation almost everyday since then. They even threatened to kill us.”
Iklil said he had reported the incident this morning to police but the several police officers who visited the school did nothing.
Around 155 students and three teachers have taken shelter at one of the student’s houses. However, they will not stay too long in one place; “because they have threatened to attack all the houses of people who have relations with us”, Iklil said.
NU East Java chief Kiai Hajj Mutawakil Alallah condemned the attack. Blaming a “third party”, he said the attack was a hostile act designed to divide local Muslims.
Earlier, a mob had attacked four houses and shops belonging to a local Muslim, setting them on fire before moving to the Shia Tajul Muluk School and its small mosque.
Recently, another local Muslim was forced to abandon his property and home and move to another East Java city after he was accused of spreading “fraudulent” Islamic teachings to locals and students in a boarding school. He is the legal owner of the torched boarding school, which had around 130 pupils.
Established in 2004, the school had only recently raised concerns among local Muslims over the presence of minority Shia educational facility in their territory.
For local authorities, the incident is due to a local row that got out of hand. For the local chapter of NU, the conflict has a long history and it will try to defuse it before its spreads to other areas.
The incident highlights an ugly undertone in Indonesia’s life, namely the mistreatment of minorities by majority Sunnis. In this case, Shias were the target, but members of the Ahmadi community have been attacked by Muslim extremists in the past.
The majority of Muslims in Indonesia, the most populous Muslim country in the world, are followers of Sunni,while the Umar Shihab Chairman of the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI), expressed his views as follows :
Umar Shihab, Ukhuwah Islamiyah Commission Chairman of the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI), said that MUI had never issued any fatwa that declared the teachings of Shia Islam as deviant.
Earlier, chairman of Sampang’s MUI branch Bukhori Maksum had said he believed the MUI had issued a fatwa declaring Shai teachings as deviant.
“It is a misconception if [people] believe that the assault was triggered by objections against the Shia teaching, because Shia Islam, like Sunni, is not deviant,” Umar Shihab told TEMPO on Sunday. According to Umar, Shia and Sunni have existed and has been acknowledged since the beginnings of Islam.
Umar Shihab expressed his concerns over the recent burnings of the Shia boarding school in Sampang. Umar believes that Islam has never justified violence in the name of religion. “I also expect the authority to immediately arrest and legally process the perpetrators.”
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