10/14/2014, 00.00
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Jakarta Police Chief: The Islamic Defence Front must be eliminated

by Mathias Hariyadi
General Sutarman says FPI must be stopped (also) over violence and abuses against minorities. Civil society supports the campaign, "discontent" among law enforcement officers. In recent days, one of the leaders of the FPI in the capital arrested. In the 10 years under Yudhoyono Islamists have been able to act due to political protection.

Jakarta (AsiaNews) - Indonesian police chiefs in Jakarta have launched an all-out war against the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI), who have been behind several episodes of sectarian violence and intolerance. Leading the fight against the extremist group, is Police Chief, General Sutarman, who claims "the FPI should be dissolved once and for all" for the raids and abuses it has carried out, especially during the holy month of Ramadan. However, the campaign launched by the general - and supported by broad sectors of civil society - has caused "resentment" and opposition even within the police, with officers opposed the Front's dissolution.

The members of the notorious FDI have been protagonists of campaigns and targeted attacks against Christians - Catholic and Protestant - in their wave of protests against the "illegal" services and celebrations held in buildings without the so-called building permit (IMB ).

Last week, the chief inspector of police Unggung Cahyono led a maxi-operation against Islamist front, arresting of the leaders of the protest campaign against the vice-governor of Jakarta Tjahaja Basuki Purnama, better known as Ahok. The extremist movement is targeting the politicianbecause he is an ethnic Chinese Christian taking over government of the capital frome Joko "Jokowi" Widodo. This October 20th, Jokowi will begin his term as President of Indonesia.

In blitz the police arrested one of the FPI coordinators in Jakarta. A blow to the movement, which in the 10 years of administration of the outgoing Head of State Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has been able to do (almost always) act undisturbed, thanks to the "political and institutional complicity". The controversial support of Minister of Interior Gamawan Fauzi was highly criticized. However now there has been a decided change in tone, with the warning issued by General Sutarman who wants the group dissolved.

Indonesia is the most populous Muslim nation in the world (86% profess Islam) and, while ensuring the constitutional principles of basic personal freedoms (including religious), it has long been the scene of violence and abuse against minorities. Christians are almost 6% of the population, Catholics just over 3%, 1.8% are Hindu and 3.4% profess another religion. In the province of Aceh - the only in the Archipelago to apply Islamic law ( Sharia ) - the application of a radical form of Islam among citizens is becoming more extreme.

Leading this attempt at the "Islamization" of the country are members of the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI), which lay down the law in different areas by imposing rules and regulations inspired by sharia, such as the prohibition of alcoholic beverages and other regulations in the field of moral and sexual norms. The group - opposed by a large part of the civilian population - is also accused of blocking the construction of churches and of using violence to achieve their objectives: since 2000, it has launched a series of attacks targeting the United States embassy, bars, nightclubs and private circles, especially on the occasion of Ramadan, the holy month of fasting and prayer.


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