Sunni mob sets fire to Shia boarding school in East Java
by Mathias Hariyadi
The hate crime against minority Shias took place yesterday on Madura Island. Ahmadi Muslims have been victims of similar acts in the past at the hand of Muslim extremists.
Karang Gayam (AsiaNews) – Indonesia, the world’s largest Muslim country with a Sunni majority, was hit by intra-Muslim sectarian violence. An angry mob set fire to a Shia boarding school (pesantren in Indonesian) yesterday. The school, which included a small mosque, is in Karang Gayam, on Madura, a big island off East Java Province. The province is a stronghold of Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), the country’s largest (moderate) Muslim organisation.
NU East Java chief Kiai Hajj Mutawakil Alallah condemned the attack. Blaming a “third party”, he said the attack was a hostile act designed to divide local Muslims.
Earlier, a mob had attacked four houses and shops belonging to a local Muslim, setting them on fire before moving to the Shia Tajul Muluk School and its small mosque.
Recently, another local Muslim was forced to abandon his property and home and move to another East Java city after he was accused of spreading “fraudulent” Islamic teachings to locals and students in a boarding school. He is the legal owner of the torched boarding school, which had around 130 pupils.
Established in 2004, the school had only recently raised concerns among local Muslims over the presence of minority Shia educational facility in their territory.
For local authorities, the incident is due to a local row that got out of hand. For the local chapter of NU, the conflict has a long history and it will try to defuse it before its spreads to other areas.
The incident highlights an ugly undertone in Indonesia’s life, namely the mistreatment of minorities by majority Sunnis. In this case, Shias were the target, but members of the Ahmadi community have been attacked by Muslim extremists in the past.