Police urged to take action against perpetrators of Tolikara incident

Police urged to take action against perpetrators of Tolikara incident

Map of Tolikara district, Papua Province.

The incident will denote that it reflects the entire nation."
Jakarta (ANTARA News) - Muslim organizations have appealed to the National Police (Polri) to take action against the perpetrators of the conflict that occurred in Tolikara district in Papua last Friday.

During an Eid prayer service on Friday, Muslims were forced to disperse, while kiosks and an Islamic house of prayer (mushola) were set on fire.

"All perpetrators of the incident must be punished and its victims, protected," Romahurmuziy, the chairman of the United Development Party (PPP) of the Surabaya Congress, said on last Sunday.

The Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) deplored the incident, as well.

"We regret the violent acts of a number of members of the Evangelical Church of Indonesia (GIDI) against Muslims who were performing the Eid Fitr prayer," the chairman of the Fatwa Commission of the MUI for Lebak district in Banten, Baijuri, stated on Monday.

A number of people were shot and wounded when police tried to stop a mob from attacking Muslims performing their Eid Fitr morning prayers at a mosque in Karubaga, the capital of the Tolikara regency in Papua. The mob had also set afire 54 small kiosks.

According to the Indonesian Evangelical Churches Communion (PGLII), one person was killed and 11 others, all GIDI members, were wounded following the fire.

The PGLII condemned the destruction of and the arson attack on a mushola as well as on kiosks and homes in Tolikara district on Friday.

"The PGLII deplores the incident that hurt interreligious harmony and the holiness of Idul Fitri celebrated by our brothers and sisters in Tolikara. We do not justify any kind of violence that harms our brotherhood," General Chairman of the PGLII Ronny Mandang emphasized at a press conference held in Jakarta on Saturday.

MUI Banten, Baijuri added, is of the view that the Tolikara incident hurt the well-nurtured concept of religious tolerance in Indonesia and perceives the attack by members of GIDI as regrettable.

"We will not exact any revenge against them as Islam respects religious plurality," he remarked.

Moreover, General Chairman MUI Din Syamsuddin urged Muslims in Tolikara in Papua to restrain themselves from reacting to the incident that took place in the district on the occasion of Eid.

"Muslims do not need to exact revenge against the incident. They should display Muslims tolerance towards adherents of other religions," he said on Friday in response to the outbreak of an inter-communal conflict among residents in Tolikara district, Papua.

However, the MUI called on the government to resolve the Tolikara incident posthaste, before it escalates and develops into interfaith problems.

"The government should implement the best solution soon to ensure that the incident does not escalate and incite undesired episodes," H. Muhtar, the chairman of the Mataram chapter of the MUI in West Nusa Tenggara, pointed out.

In addition, Chairman of PPP M. Romahurmuziy has asked the Polri to be firm in handling the issue.

"All perpetrators must be punished, and victims of the incident must be protected," he stressed on Sunday.

He condemned the incident even more as it had taken place when Muslims were performing prayers to express their victory after the fasting month of Ramadan. The act reflected disrespect for religious tolerance.

"I regret the outbreak of the incident that took place on a day when the nation should have reinforced religious solidarity," Romi, as the PPP chairman is fondly called, explained.

The confrontation smeared Indonesias image in the eyes of the world as Papua serves as a window to the archipelago. Therefore, no matter how small it is, an incident in the province has negative impacts on the country. "The incident will denote that it reflects the entire nation," Romi added.

According to Hasyim Muzadi, who is a member of the Presidential Advisory Council and also the secretary general of the International Conference of Islamic Scholars, the government should take firm and careful measures to resolve the issue.

"It seems that (certain parties) still use religion with other interests, such as to destroy Indonesia by provoking a religious conflict," Muzadi observed in a written statement on Sunday.

A former chairman of the executive board of Nahdlatul Ulama, Indonesias largest Muslim organization, he also noted that Christians and organizations involved in the incident should offer an open apology to Indonesian Muslims.

The government must take firm action against those who attacked the Muslim congregation performing an Eid prayer, he added.

Muzadi also affirmed that Muslims who violated laws in Indonesia were punished, including terrorists, instigators and those found guilty in the Ahmadiyah riots. Therefore, the state should take fair action not due to the religion of the perpetrators but because they violated laws.

Earlier, Vice President Jusuf Kalla had expressed regret over the occurrence of the conflict.

According to a report he had received, the conflict was a result of a misunderstanding among interreligious groups of the district.

"It was a coincidence that two functions, an Eid prayer service and a meeting of church leaders, were being held in locations close to the other. The issue began with the use of a loudspeaker. There should have been better coordination before two functions like that were held," he said in response to the incident, which ended with a number of buildings in the region being set afire.

However, the situation in the Karubaga region of Tolikara district, Papua province, returned to normal on Monday, even though security personnel remain posted there to maintain law and order, following the sectarian attack on July 17.

Speaking to journalists on Monday, Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs Tedjo Edhy Purdijatno said that security personnel were deployed in Tolikara to thwart any untoward incidents from occurring.

According to Purdijatno, adherents of all religions in the district are allowed to perform their respective religious services, and there was no letter that prohibited Muslims from performing Idul Fitri prayers.

He further noted that government, in cooperation with the police, was investigating the Tolikara incident to find the perpetrators.

"Based on the results of the meeting held on Saturday, the police will conduct an investigation to ascertain whether the actions of the security personnel were in line with procedures," he remarked in his office when asked to comment on the incident.

He revealed that one person had died, and 54 kiosks and a mushola were burnt down in the incident.

In addition, the minister affirmed that it was impossible for the incident to have occurred without having anyone trigger it.

"It could not have been possible for them to have just done it. I think it started out as a demonstration, which certainly had a (field) coordinator behind it. It could not have been a spur-of-the-moment occurrence," Purdijatno remarked.