Indonesian Bishop: Bin Laden’s death, an opportunity to promote "culture of life"
by Mathias Hariyadi
For the secretary general of the bishops' conference, the killing of al Qaeda leader must lead to a "break in the cycle of violence." A priest in Semarang adds that his death does not mean "the death of terrorism." Muslim criticism for burial at sea. Radical movement is organizing a prayer vigil.

Jakarta (AsiaNews) - The death of Osama Bin Laden does not mean the "death" of terrorism at a local level in Indonesia, or on the international front. There are still many active underground cells, ready to strike. This is what a Catholic priest of Semarang tells AsiaNews, calling on the government to be more "realistic." However, the general secretary of the bishops of Indonesia (KWI) sees the death of the al Qaeda leader as a possibility to bring about a radical change in the "culture of death", transforming it into a "culture of life". Meanwhile, other extremist groups have condemned the burial of the corpse at the sea, deemed "immoral" and not in keeping with the dictates of Islam.

Speaking to AsiaNews Fr Aloysius Budipurnomo Pr, head of the interreligious  Commission in the Archdiocese of Semarang, "the death of Osama Bin Laden does not imply the 'death' of terrorism" domestic or worldwide, because the fight against extremism "is an everyday activity such just like shaving is" . The priest adds that "numerous terrorist cells" are still active today and the Indonesian government should show a "realistic" attitude towards these underground groups. On a personal level, said Father Aloysius, he is happy that the government shows a hard fist to "this enemy of society."

Msgr. Johannes Pujasumarta Pr, secretary general of the Indonesian Bishops Conference (KWI), believes it is time to change dramatically from a "culture of death" to a new chapter in history: the "culture of life". The prelate calls for an "end to the cycle of violence," erase the culture of revenge and to promote the absolute value "of life." In an interview with AsiaNews, the archbishop of Semarang adds that it is essential to "promote peace and universal brotherhood among the Indonesian people" and hopes that this will help spread the values of compassion, love and mutual care according to the dictates of God.

However, the fears of Christians are justified by the statements of some members of the leadership and Islamic Jihad. Nasir Abbas, a former fighter in the jihad against the Soviets in Afghanistan in the '80s, says that his old comrades in Indonesia might seek revenge for the death of Bin Laden. The latest of several groups linked to the terror network, formed by the controversial cleric Abu Nakari Bashir, is known by the acronym JAT, the Jama'ah Ansharut Tauhid. Their spokesman said that the killing of the leader of al Qaeda is a "sad" fact but will not serve as a deterrent for young fighters and jihadists.

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has said the killing of the leader of al Qaeda is a good "opportunity" to stop terrorism in the country, but calls for prudence and demands for greater security come from many quarters. He adds that the special measures of prevention and combating fundamentalism will not be interrupted, despite the overthrow of the "icon of terror" by U.S. special forces. Yudhoyono presided over a meeting of the special security units, consisting of senior government officials and military leaders. Some strategic locations remain under observation such as Bali, where in 2002 a bloody attack that caused over 200 deaths.

Meanwhile, protests of part of the Indonesian Muslim community mount, which condemns the burial of Osama Bin Laden at sea. The leader of the Islamic Mui branded the gesture as "immoral", because the body of a Muslim must be buried on dry land, "whoever he is." The Islamic Defence Front (FPI) will hold a special prayer vigil to "honour the memory of the leader of al Qaeda.