06/14/2006, 00.00
INDONESIA
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Abu Bakar Baasyir free to fight for Sharia

The Muslim clergyman, who was involved in the 2002 Bali bombing, walked free today. He reaffirms his support for the imposition of Islamic law. Growing concerns over the country's Islamisation push lawmakers to ask president to stop it.

Jakarta (AsiaNews) – Indonesian cleric Abu Bakar Baasyir, jailed for his involvement in the 2002 Bali bombing, walked free from a Jakarta prison vowing that he would continue to fight for the imposition of Sharia or Islamic law. In the country though, more and more people are concerned by its creeping Islamisation. Today 56 lawmakers called for the repeal of local Sharia-inspired laws on the grounds that they are unconstitutional.

Baasyir, who served 26 of his 30-month sentence as an accessory to the October 2002 attacks that killed 202 people, left Jakarta's Cipinang prison amid supporters shouting "Allah Akbar" (God is greater).

"I will continue to fight to uphold the Islamic Sharia," Abu Bakar Baasyir said, thanking Allah and his lawyers for his release. Smiling, he then got into a waiting car which sped off, presumably to Solo in central Java, where he is expected to resume teaching at the notorious Ngruki Islamic School.

According to Indonesian and US intelligence Baasyir is the spiritual leader of Jemaah Islamiyah, a terrorist network based in South-East Asia linked to al-Qaeda.

At the other end of the political spectrum, 56 Indonesian lawmakers concerned with the country's creeping Islamisation have urged Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to abolish some local laws based on the Sharia.

In a petition, which included signatories from Muslim-based political parties, the elected officials have said that these laws are unconstitutional urging the President to act quickly before the state faced disintegration.

This initiative is the first of its kind against laws inspired by Islam. Currently 22 regencies (districts) and towns have passed laws and regulations that criminalise behaviour banned by Islamic law such as adultery, prostitution, drinking alcoholic beverages as well as women's freedom.

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