Fri, 01 Dec 2000

Muslim activists condemn FPI's violent raids

JAKARTA (JP): Muslim activists condemned on Thursday the raids on various entertainment centers conducted by the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI), saying that the group did not represent the whole Muslim community.

Executive of the Muhammadiyah Muslim Youth Association (PP Muhammadiyah) Nadjamuddin Ramly said the violence committed by FPI members in the name of religion was unacceptable.

"What they do by raiding entertainment centers, destroying property and injuring people, is purely criminal," Nadjamuddin told The Jakarta Post by phone.

"Police should arrest the people who commit such acts," he said.

Nadjamuddin also said that the FPI's actions had damaged the image of Muslims.

"The FPI scares off even Muslims themselves," he claimed.

He said that PP Muhammadiyah, the youth wing of the country's second largest Muslim organization, disagreed with the way the FPI members raided nightspots which they considered to be running sinful businesses.

Nadjamuddin said that even though the city administration had issued a regulation which required saunas, nightclubs, discotheques and arcades to close during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadhan, many still ignored the regulation.

"But the FPI should report such violations to the authorities instead of raiding the nightspots," Nadjamuddin said.

Following pressure from Muslim groups and six City Council factions, Governor Sutiyoso announced on Nov. 23 that nightspots would be closed during Ramadhan, Idul Fitri and Christmas.

Former chairman of the Indonesian Muslim Students Association (HMI) Ridwan Saidi shared Nadjamuddin's opinion, saying that the FPI attacks had caused losses to businesses which were located near the targets of the attacks.

"Their acts have been scaring off other people and other businesses which are not related in any way to the nightspots," Ridwan said.

"If the FPI wants to play rough, they should head off to the battlefield in the Gaza Strip," Ridwan added.

FPI attacks on nightspots have intensified during Ramadhan following their pledge to burn down nightspots which remain open during the fasting month.

On Wednesday, a police report said that the group had raided the MW bar and the Ratu Ayu bar on Jl. Tubagus Angke in Wijaya Kusuma subdistrict, West Jakarta, even though the bars had been closed at the time of the raid.

The report said that some 300 members of the group, armed with daggers and swords, had arrived at the two bars about 10:30 p.m., broke into them and carried out musical instruments and furniture which they then set alight.

Jakarta Police spokesman Supt. Anton Badrul Alam said the police had yet to make any arrests over the attack.

"We will summon the FPI chief for a talk," Anton told reporters at city police headquarters on Thursday.

When contacted by the Post, FPI executive Reza Pahlevi said the bars had only been closed as they had heard about the FPI's plan to attack them.

"They were open just moments before we arrived," Reza claimed.

Reza said that the group's members were not afraid of being questioned by the police over the raids.

"These places have been abusing women by turning them into prostitutes but the police never question them. How come?" Reza asked. (jaw)