08/31/2012, 00.00
INDONESIA

Muslim activist helps minority Shias in East Java victims of Sunni violence

Mathias Hariyadi
Anti-discrimination Islamic group president confirms that scores of people have disappeared, and that hundreds more are in need of food and basic necessities. Calling for trauma care experts to treat victims, he slams government inaction, but latter blames the violence on a "family feud."

Jakarta (AsiaNews) - Scores of Shias are missing and hundreds more need a refuge and basic necessities, which the government is slow to provide, said Aan Anshori, president of the Islamic Network of Anti-Discrimination (JIAD). Speaking to AsiaNews from Surabaya, East Java, he said that Sunnis and Shias were involved in sectarian violence and that President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and his administration were proving incapable of dealing with an increasingly critical situation. The activist explained that scores of members of the Shia community had disappeared and that those who found refuge at an indoor sport stadium were "without adequate food and water."

In recent days, violent clashes broke out between majority Sunnis and minority Shias, ostensibly in a family feud, in the world's largest Muslim nation. Officially, two people are dead (not four as was first thought) and eight are seriously wounded. About 40 homes owned by Shia families were destroyed.

"What is urgently needed here is medical treatment" for refugees, "including some medical care for trauma patients," Mr Anshori said. In addition, at least 70 Shia families or 278 people are living in shelters. They need however food and proper accommodations.

JIAD has been helping them. Youth members of Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) are assisting the organisation, as are members of other groups, like Stara Muda, GusDurian Jombang, Prasasti and the Interfaith Forum in Jombang.

Meanwhile, the government is trying to downplay the extent of the violence between the two Muslim groups. But predominantly Shia Iran has offered help to fellow Shias in Indonesia.

For his part, Indonesian Religious Affairs Minister Suryadharma Ali insisted that the clashes in Sampang are not confessional in nature, but a "family feud". Interior Minister Gamawan Fauzi agrees. In his view, recent events are nothing but an "ordinary crime."

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