june 27, 2010
Ulma Haryanto

In this photo taken last year, Volunteer fighters attend a sermon in Bakasi by 
Abu Bakar Bashir, who was alleged to have once headed the regional militant 
network Jemaah Islamiah. He was urging Muslims to fight in the Gaza Strip. 
Religious leaders in the Jakarta suburb on Sunday called on all Muslims to join 
forces and prepare for the possibility of war against the perceived 
Christianization of the city. (Reuters Photo) 

Bekasi Muslim Groups Call for Formation of Militia Units, Warn of Potential 

Several religious organizations in Bekasi have recommended that every Mosque in 
Bekasi on the outskirts of Jakarta form militia units and called on all local 
Muslims to prepare for the possibility of "war" against what they perceive to 
be the Christianization of the city in West Java.

During the second Bekasi Islamic Congress at the Al-Azhar Mosque in Bekasi on 
Sunday, the call was made to all Bekasi Muslims to join forces against what 
they perceive to be the recent spreading of Christianity.

The groups are also expected to forward several recommendations to the Bekasi 
administration to create policies that are compliant with Shariah law.

"All Muslims should unite and standby because ... the Christians are on to 
something," Murhali Barda, head of the Bekasi chapter of the hard-line Islamic 
Defenders Front (FPI), told the Jakarta Globe on Sunday.

"Apparently they want to test our patience. We are planning to invite them for 
a dialogue to determine what they really want. If talks fail, this might mean 
war," he warned.

Saleh Mangara Sitompul, the secretary of the congress and also a member of the 
Bekasi branch of Muhammadiyah, Indonesia's second largest Muslim organization, 
said another recommendation was for every mosque in Bekasi to form their own 
individual paramilitary units.

"We hope that the recommendations to the government could be a guide for them 
so that there will be no religious defamation or inter-religious conflicts," he 

On Tuesday, the Islamic Defenders Front said that it would insist that the city 
issue policies in line with its view of Islam.

The comments came a day after the Bekasi government sealed another Protestant 
church because of constant pressure from hard-line groups, and three days after 
the administration pulled down the "Tiga Mojang," or Three Girls, statue.

The statue at the Harapan Indah residential complex was dismantled after 
demonstrations by hard-line pressure groups that deemed the sculpture at odds 
with conservative Muslim views.

The Jakarta suburb is becoming a religious battleground, with hard-line 
Islamists claiming that Christian zealots have targeted the community.

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