Jakarta (AsiaNews) - Indonesian extremists supporters of the Islamic State (formerly Isis, Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) want to target and destroy the most important Buddhist cultural center of the country: the temple of Borobudur, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Central Java Army chief General Sunindyo has stated that he is strengthening security to protect the highly popular site sacred to the Buddhist community throughout South-East Asia and major tourist attraction.
The risk is a repeat of what happened in Afghanistan in 2001,when the madness of Taliban extremism led to the destruction of the famous Bamiyan Buddhas. The local fringe of IS has announced plans to target Borobudur on a Facebook page called "We are an Islamic state".
Indonesian media and social networks had recently warned of a possible attack on the temple. Meeting with journalists in Solo, Gen. Sunindyo recalled that "it is our duty to protect the nation's cultural heritage which is a primary asset for tourism"; he has also called on all "citizens" to "protect our cultural heritage".
The Borobudur temple complex is located in the heart of the province of Central Java and is now considered the largest and most important cultural legacy of the Mahayana Buddhist tradition of the eighth and ninth centuries. Built by King Syailendra, the temple features more than 2,600 carvings - for a total length of more than 5 km - and 504 statues of the Buddha. Already in 1985, the temple has been the subject of was brutally attacked by Islamic extremists with extensive damage to at least nine stupas on the summit.
Outgoing- president, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, often accused of not intervening in decisive terms against Islamic fundamentalism, has stated that the violence of the Islamic State is "humiliating" to Muslims. He adds that "there is no room for them in Indonesia," because "their philosophy is contrary to [our] fundamental values". He has reiterated that Indonesia "is not an Islamic state" and respects "all religions".
Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim nation, is fast becoming one of the major centers of Islamic activism throughout the region. As AsiaNews has recently reported, fundamentalist movements and local Muslim leaders are inspired by the exploits of the Sunni fighters in Syria and Iraq and intent on supporting the struggle for the establishment and expansion of the Islamic Caliphate, even to Asia.