» 05/12/2012 INDONESIA Indonesia, Islamic paramilitary group defends Christians, Hindus and Buddhists by Mathias Hariyadi It's called Banser and is a branch of the Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), a movement established in 1926 which aims to protect all minorities in the country. Recently, they foiled an attack by Islamic fundamentalists against a Canadian writer. According to members of NU "Muslims and Christians believe in the same God," spread of radical Islam depends on the " government that supports them for fear of losing votes."
Yogyakarta (AsiaNews) - Canadian journalist and author Irshad Manji was
threatened with death by Islamic fundamentalist groups for having written a
book about Islam and freedom entitled Allah, Liberty and Love. For weeks, members of
radical movements have stopped the author from presenting the book, often by
attacking people attending meetings. Only during a speech at the headquarters
of the Free Journalist Alliance in South Jakarta, were there no assaults, thanks to the
intervention of members of Banser, the paramilitary group of Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), the Shiite Muslim
movement that defends the country's ethnic and religious minorities .
Founded in 1926 by Kiai Hajj Hasyim Ashari - grandfather of the late Indonesian
President Abdurrahman Wahid, nicknamed Gus Dur - over the years has become a
flag of moderate Islam. NU gave birth to the paramilitary unit Banser and the Gerakan Pemuda Ansor youth wing.
Kiai Hajj Husein Nuril Arifin, a Muslim leader of Semarang
(Central Java province), told AsiaNews: "True Islam supports the
spirit of tolerance and love among human beings. With Christians, we believe in
the same God The differences are in how we practice our faith: there is no
reason to worry about those who exercise a faith different from ours. Muslim leaders
should practice this spirit of tolerance, rather than just talk at seminars and
According Aan Anshori, a member of the NU, the problem in Indonesia is that "the
government is afraid of losing the support of Muslim fundamentalist groups,"
and this is why the will not take the necessary measures to stop them. "If
we look at the attacks on Irshad Manji - he explains - they were radical
Islamists: in the book he speaks of freedom [Hurriyah], Justice ['Adalah]
and social equality [musawwa]. Ideas
that these groups do not adhere to".