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    » 08/13/2012, 00.00

    INDONESIA - MYANMAR

    Indonesian Islamists attack Buddhist temples as revenge for Rohingya

    Mathias Hariyadi

    The fate of Myanmar's Muslim minority is becoming a "domestic problem" for Jakarta. Islamist extremists manipulate images and news to create instability. Buddhist places of worship are attacked in South Sulawesi. In Jakarta, funds are raised for the victims of violence in Myanmar.

    Jakarta (AsiaNews) - The tragedy of Myanmar's Rohingya Muslims could ignite sectarian violence in Indonesia, where Islamist extremists targeted Muslim buildings and announced more actions, violent ones included. The Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) slammed the attacks, noting through its President Rahin Yunus that abuses against Myanmar's Muslim minority are not an Indonesian domestic problem. "Anarchy cannot be allowed, especially during the sacred month of Ramadan," Yunus said as he spoke about last week's attacks against Buddhist temples in Makassar and other parts of the archipelago.

    Under the military regime of Suharto (1967-1998), issues like ethnicity, religion, race and interethnic relations were taboo and could not be discussed in public. Today events and facts, including international politics, that touch upon them are manipulated to cause domestic tensions. Photos, newspaper articles and distorted images are circulated to stir public opinion against various groups, undermining the authority of the central government.

    This is what is currently taking place in Indonesia over the fate of Myanmar's Rohingya Muslims. Appeals and pressures on the Indonesian government have now turned to actions and attacks against religious symbols.

    Last Friday, groups linked to the Islamic Defence Front (FPI) attacked Buddhist temples in Makassar (South Sulawesi province), turning what was supposed to be a peaceful demonstration of solidarity with the Rohingya into a violent protest.

    Newspaper articles, images and news that distorted the issue caused the attack by turning an issue in Myanmar and Bangladesh into a domestic Indonesian affair between Muslims and Buddhists, mixing ethnic, religious, political and social issues.

    In an uncoordinated fashion, extremists attacked the temples of Xian Ma, Kwan Kong, Ibu Agung Bahari and Girinaga, some singing and chanting slogans.

    Last Friday, at the end of the weekly prayer, at least 5,000 Muslims gathered in Depok (Bogor Regency) in a show of solidarity for the Rohingya. During the event, funds were raised for the victims of sectarian violence in Myanmar.

    Other meetings and demonstrations were held without violence in the capital Jakarta.

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    See also

    25/10/2012 MYANMAR
    Anti-Rohingya violence: Burmese Muslims not celebrating the Feast of Sacrifice
    The Burmese Muslim Association (BMA) calls on three million Muslims not to celebrate the Eid al-Adha in public. A Muslim leader warns that Muslims are "being killed" and their villages "turned into ashes". In Sittwe, hundreds of Burmese university students march against Rohingya presence near their campus.

    14/10/2004 INDONESIA
    Two Christians Killed in Sulawesi


    18/10/2004 MYANMAR
    Systematic religious persecution in Myanmar


    29/08/2011 INDONESIA
    Muslim extremists against movie that promotes tolerance and dialogue
    Extremists from the Islamic Defender Front demonstrate against SCTV, a TV station that plans to broadcast a movie, “?”, that promotes tolerance and respect towards other religions, filmmaker says. Recently, an ulema organisation issued a fatwa against the movie. Pro-democracy activists warn that attacks threaten freed expression.

    16/01/2013 INDONESIA
    East Java: six Catholic schools could be shut down for not teaching Islam
    The authorities threaten to close the schools by 19 January. Until now Christian schools have never been required to offer courses and seminars on the Qur'an. Given the sensitive nature of the matter, school administrators are not making any public statement.



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