Tag Archives: crime

Getting away with religious murder in Indonesia

I must applaud A. Lin Neumann for his powerful opinion piece in today’s Jakarta Globe newspaper. Indonesia is letting murderers, people who kill in the name of the dominant form of Islam, to get away with slaps on the wrist.

In an appalling series of decisions on Thursday, a court in Serang, western Java, gave sentences of three to six months’ jail to 12 men who led a mob of around 1,500 Muslim fanatics against a small group of Ahmadiyah sect members in February this year. Three of the followers of the minority Muslim faith were viciously slaughtered in front of police, who did nothing to intervene. Then the mob set upon the corpses and the property, and hunted the survivors through the surrounding fields.  Phil Robertson of Human Rights Watch summed it up with one word: “savagery”.

The whole thing was captured on video for all to see. Be warned, this is disturbing footage.

Only 12 people were charged over this incident. None was charged with murder. None received a sentence stiffer than six months in jail. All will walk free in weeks. That’s Indonesian justice and tolerance. It is tolerance of murder and mob rule.

You can read more on the pathetic judicial process here at Human Rights Watch.

Here are some extracts from Neumann’s piece:

I still cannot get one sound from the Feb. 6 Cikeusik mob attack on a handful of Ahmadiyah followers out of my head. At some point the shouting and mayhem, which millions have seen on YouTube, seems to subside as a lifeless body in the mud is beaten with wooden staves. There follows a series of sickening wet slaps against the corpse as a crowd shouts in approval.

But that man and two other victims were not murdered, according to prosecutors who chose the lightest possible charges to throw up against the clearly identifiable suspects in the Banten province attack. On Thursday, a court made it official, handing out sentences of three to six months to 12 men accused of leading and carrying out the assault.

Dani bin Misra, a 17-year-old, smashed a victim’s skull with a stone; he was charged with manslaughter and got three months. The leader of the mob of about 1,000 people who attacked 20 Ahmadis, Idris bin Mahdani, was convicted of illegal possession of a machete and got five months and 15 days in jail.

In other words, murder – organized, premeditated and captured on video – is not much more of a crime than stealing a bunch of bananas. In Indonesia, it appears, you can get away with murder, as long as the killing is done in the name of religion…

The sad truth is that Indonesia, despite its progress on so many fronts, still allows preachers of hate to foment criminal acts against others. In this upside-down world, Ahmadiyah followers can be killed for their belief that their prophet came after Mohammed. They are fair game.

Thursday’s court verdict seems likely to spur still more mob terror since the crime carries virtually no punishment and the government does so little to speak out against such heinous acts.

This is a frightening black mark on a nation that prides itself on being a bastion of tolerance guided by Pancasila, whose first pillar is religious freedom and whose second is Kemanusiaan yang Adil dan Beradab, which states that all people should be treated with dignity as creatures of God.

This is not the first time such an outrage has gone virtually unpunished. Just two days after the Cikeusik killings, a mob in Temanggung, Central Java, ran riot in reaction to a blasphemy verdict. They were angry because a Christian accused of defaming Islam got only a five-year sentence – mind you, he killed no one.

That mob burned churches and buildings and injured bystanders. Most of the accused were given five-month sentences by a Semarang court last month. The ring leader, a cleric, got a year’s sentence, which was reduced by several months for time served.

What is so deeply alarming about the Cikeusik verdicts and other outrages, however, is the absence of reasoned and consistent leadership from the top reaches of government to set a tone of tolerance in the face of criminal acts committed in the name of religion…

The impression that Indonesia is a major success story is increasingly widespread. But don’t take it for granted. Mob rule, disrespect for the law and courts that treat killers with kid gloves are also still part of Indonesia’s story.



American pulls plug on noisy mosque in Indonesia

A minaret in Jakarta

An American man has been arrested in Indonesia for allegedly pulling the plug on his local mosque. He faces five years in jail for blasphemy but I think he deserves a medal. He’s an instant legend in my private Hall of Fame.

Every non-Muslim, and probably most Muslims, who have ever lived near a mosque have fantasized at least once about marching in and kicking the plug out of the wall during the call to prayer.

I live near a particularly irritating mosque with a muezzin who sounds like a 12-year-old child. The noise – and that’s all it is – regularly forces me to close my windows no matter how hot it is inside. At least I don’t hear it at night, so my sleep isn’t disturbed. I’d move if that was the case.

Even so I’ve fantasized about writing a letter to the mosque asking them to turn down the loudspeaker. I’ve even caught myself daydreaming about knocking the speaker off the building before slipping away into the night like a cat.

I know I’m not the only one; my friends joke about it all the time.

But we would never act out our fantasies, no matter how much we feel our rights to peace and quiet are being abused. We are timid people, easily silenced by the religious majority in this mainly Muslim country.

And we’re afraid of the blasphemy law, or of being physically attacked by a mob of Islamic extremists who roam Indonesia’s streets with almost total impunity – to the horror of non-Muslims and moderate Muslims alike.

Not so Luke Gregory Lloyd.

The 64-year-old allegedly walked into a mosque on Lombok island on the night of August 22, berated the worshippers for keeping him awake and pulled the plug on the loudspeaker. That it was Ramadan, the Muslim holy month, and the people were in the middle of a nightly reading of the Koran seemed to matter not a jot to Mr Lloyd, according to police.

He apparently escaped a beating but the police caught up with him almost instantly and he’s been in custody at a hotel in Lombok ever since. Under Indonesia’s draconian blasphemy laws he could face five years in jail.

More likely he’ll be thrown out of the country – police also allege that his visa expired in 2006.

That would be a shame, because by all reports he has given a lot to the community around Kuta beach, Lombok, where he owned a guesthouse, the Kuta Beach Hideaway.

Kuta beach, Lombok

Assuming there’s only one American guesthouse owner by the name of Lloyd in Kuta, the alleged blasphemer is the same man identified as Greg Luke in this travel blog. It says he has a young son.

Greg is a very generous guy – always giving away medicine when local people drop by who are ill, supplying local people with potable water, making me a guest in his home as his contribution to improving local schools.  His bungalow has the most beautiful view in Kuta Beach. Travelers to Kuta Beach should … help support a guy who truly gives it all back to the Sasak people.

Could be a case of “Lord Jim” syndrome, after the Conrad character who washes up as a European castaway somewhere in Indonesia. Conrad’s Jim falls in love with the ease and beauty of local village life but stays a little too long.

(Photo of Lombok courtesy of Fadil Basymeleh via flickr)