05/12/2012, 00.00
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 conferences. "

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".

 

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