Jakarta (AsiaNews) The Islamic community in Indonesia has reacted to the bombings in Bali by reiterating that the great majority of Muslims are against terrorism and do not identify with it.
In a press conference yesterday, Kiai Haj Hasyim Muzadi, president of Indonesia's largest Muslim organization Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), condemned the "use of Islam (and of any other religion) as an ideology to carry out things which are totally against humanity and the essence of Islam". He emphasized: "Terrorism has nothing to do with Islam". Muzadi invited all of Indonesia, the largest Muslim nation in the world, to fight terrorism "hand in hand".
The equation that a Muslim equals a terrorist is worrying also to Syafii Maarif, former president of the second leading Muslim organization in the country, the
"These bloody actions go against humanity and against the values of Islam," he said. "These terrorists define themselves as Muslims but it is unacceptable. No religion could ever excuse such a bloody action against fellow humans." Maarif, a well-known Muslim scholar who takes a moderate stand, urged the terrorists to "cut off their identity of Muslims because their actions only tarnish the good image of Islam." The scholar then criticised the security forces for not managing to capture two Malaysian terrorists who are on the run, Azahari and Nordin M Top, suspected of masterminding the 1 October attack and that in Bali in 2002.
Meanwhile, the country's most influential leader, Abdurrahman Wahid, ranged himself on the side of the government. The former Indonesian president better known as Gus Dur defended the government, expressing his support in the fight against terrorism and the urgency of "stopping extremist activities" by Muslims. Gus Dur a former NU president urged people not to point to the central government as being responsible for the disaster. Many have in fact accused the authorities of not doing enough to prevent an attack, the possibility of which had been announced by the secret services already in July. Others have speculated that the Bali bombings are a response to the expensive fuel prices imposed by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, which entered into force precisely on 1 October.
Gus Dur participated in the ceremony to mark the memory of the Bali victims, which took place last night in Jakarta. The manifestation was held in the rotunda of the Hotel Indonesia in the heart of the capital, a traditional meeting place for large demonstrations.
Together with Gus Dur were representatives of the Freedom Guard. This organization, set up only a few days ago, is made up of people from diverse social and religious backgrounds and it aims to safeguard freedom of worship in the country through non-violent means. Husein Hasehm, secretary-general of the group, called on the population to sustain the efforts of the police and the government, focused on "delivering to justice" those behind Saturday's disaster.
Condemnation of the Bali attacks was forthcoming also from the NU executive director, Masdar Farid Mas'udi: "This is a cowardly action conducted by certain extremists; we hope that all the nation will react and return to its normal life."
Last night, many Hindu peace campaigners were present in the square, gathered in the so-called group of the Non Violence Hindu Youth Solidarity (SMHAK) and members of the Professional and Civil Society (MPM).