Surabaya. A small group of religious hard-liners backed up by police disrupted an interfaith dialogue on Tuesday night, claiming that the event was conducted without a permit.
At the end of Uli Abshar Abdalla and Bambang Noorsena’s “Islamic-Christian Theology Dialogue: Textual Criticism on Biblical and Koranic Text Variants,” eight people showed up and demanded to see the committee who planned the event. They then forced the organizers to go to the Surabaya Police station to be questioned.
“The weird thing is that the police officers who were present stayed quiet, regardless of what the group did,” Ahmad Zaimul Hamdi, a committee member and activist with the Anti-Violence Society Network, said on Wednesday.
“The police even provided a vehicle to bring the organizers to the police station.”
Ahmad said that the event was part of an academic discussion that analyzed the Koran and the Bible from both Islamic and Christian perspectives. Hundreds of people attended the event, and the discussion was going smoothly until the small group of hard-liners arrived on the scene.
In reality, the committee did obtain a police permit to conduct the event in a restaurant in South Surabaya. However, law enforcers revoked the permit shortly after on the grounds that the restaurant no longer wanted the event to be held at its location.
Since invitations were sent out, organizers decided to move the discussion to a Bishops Inn hotel in Surabay.
“News spread that the police knew that the discussion would be opposed by hard-liners,” Ahmad said. “They revoked the event permit instead of protecting us.”
The Surabaya chapter of Anstor, Nahdlatul Ulema’s youth wing, condemned the hard-liners’ protest.
“We want the government to take strict action against those committed to violence,” Mohammad Asrori, the head of Ansor’s Surabaya chapter, said.
The Surabaya Police office reportedly handed the case over to the East Java Police, though Sr. Comr. Hilman Thalib, a spokesman for the East Java Police, could not be reached for confirmation.