Letter: Radicals gain more energy

The Jakarta Post, Thu, 06/19/2008 9:58 AM | Reader's Forum


In recent years, Muslim radicals here have gained more power and energy, largely due to the weakness of our state. Our present government is backed by several parties and many of them are clearly in favor of those radicals.

These radicals are not only intolerant of the beliefs of minority groups, but are also against the somewhat secular ideology of the state and its very, very tolerant constitution.

Indonesia is the country with the largest Muslim population in the world. A large number of Muslims in this country are tolerant. Indeed, many are moderate.

However, they are not as vocal as the handful of radicals we now see perpetrating violence against the peace-loving people in Indonesia, inflicting physical and emotional harm and causing law-abiding Indonesians undue fear for the loss of their basic rights for personal health, well-being and safety.

Unfortunately, these radicals have been created by several political parties for their own political motives. Now, they have turned into monsters.

On June 1, my friends and colleagues from the National Integration Movement and the Anand Ashram Foundation (affiliated with the UN through the Department of Public Information) joined the National Alliance for the Freedom of Faith and Religion in their peace rally and campaign against violence.

We were there with our musical instruments, singing, dancing, and passing our message in a dignified, humane and non-violent way.

As we entered the grounds where the National Monument is located in Central Jakarta, we were brutally attacked by radicals. More than 80 of us were wounded -- many seriously. One of our youngsters now suffers from permanent brain damage.

The police came, albeit a bit late after these criminals did their job of violence. Not one of them was arrested on the spot. A few days later, after much pressure from the public and the media, the radicals who were admittedly responsible for these brutal attacks that injured many were arrested.

Now, with thousands of supporters, these very radicals can hold any kind of a rally and campaign for just about anything in support of their detained mentors and ask for their release.

Increasing radicalism in this country will definitely affect the security of the entire world. It is, therefore, in the interest of the global community that these violent radicals should be immediately arrested. The evidence is plentiful and it is only the political will on the part of our government that is now required.