09/15/2010, 00.00
INDONESIA
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Muslim leader detained in anti-Christian attack

by Mathias Hariyadi
Police announce that Muharli Barda, notorious head of the Islamic Defender Front in Bekasi, is a suspect in the case. Nine other people are involved, but their names have not yet been made public as the authorities continue to investigate the stabbing of a Christian clergyman.
Jakarta (AsiaNews) – Indonesian police confirmed that Muharli Barda, the notorious leader of the Islamic Defender Front (FPI) in Bekasi, has been detained for his role in an anti-Christian incident that occurred on 12 September. Police also said that nine other people were involved, but did not disclose their names.

The incident in question occurred last Sunday when a Protestant clergyman, Rev Afian Sihombing, was attacked. He is the head of a Christian community in East Pondonk Bekasi Regency. He is currently in hospital with multiple stab wounds to the stomach. Rev Luspida Simanjutak was also injured during the attack, with wounds to the face, head and back. She and Rev Sihombing lead the Huria Batak Kristen Protestan (HBKP).

After initially taking a guarded position, police became more involved following a statement by Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, who said that Christians should have justice.

“There are ten suspects,” Police Chief General Bambang Hendarso Danuri announced. He declined however to give any further comments.

“Let’s not talk about which mass organisation they belong to. As long as they commit a crime, we will handle them seriously. Law enforcement should be practiced without any preference,” he said.

Bekasi FPI leader Mhuharli Barda, who has often been blamed for disorders, was mentioned by Jakarta police spokesman Senior Superintendent Boy Rafli Amar.

“Yes! It definitively correct that Muharli Barda has been declared as a suspect for his role in provoking ill feelings against others,” Amar said in response to a question. “Barda is now in police custody,” he added.

A top FPI national leader Munarman slammed the anti-Christian attack and said that the group would punish any FPI member found guilty.

“We shall evaluate if Muharli Barda was involved or not. If he acted on his own, he would be expelled; if he acted as local FPI chief, the section would be shut down and reorganised at the right moment,” he said.

Yet, just a few days before the incident Munarman had defended the accused.

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