Indonesia's Hard-Line Muslims Raid South Jakarta Bar, Go to Jail

By : webadmin | on 9:23 AM July 30, 2012
Category : Archive

Bayu Marhaenjati & Zaky Pawas

In a move that was considered surprising to some, the police arrested 62 members of a hard-line Muslim group after they were involved in the year’s first illegal Ramadan raid in Jakarta.

About 150 people from the Prophet’s Defender Council ransacked and vandalized a bar on Jalan Veteran Raya in South Jakarta, ordering it to shut down during the fasting month of Ramadan.

The attack, the police said, was organized by the group’s leader, Habib Bahar bin Smith, also known as Habib Bule, who was among the suspects arrested and charged by the police.

“[Bahar] directly oversaw the attack on the bar and he instructed his people,” Sr. Comr. Rikwanto, a Jakarta Police spokesman, said on Sunday.

Rikwanto said 62 people were arrested, including 41 juveniles. The teenagers were released without charge except for two minors who were directly involved in ransacking the bar and who were found to be carrying sharp weapons. These two teenagers could face up to six years in prison under the 1951 Emergency Law for carrying weapons and two and a half years for destroying private property.

Bahar and another hard-liner identified only as S.Y. have been charged with the same offenses as the teenagers but face up to 12 years in jail terms because they are adults. The remaining 19 suspects were charged with aggravated assault on several bar employees and could face up to five and a half years in prison.

Indonesian Child Protection Commission (KPAI) secretary Muhammad Ikhsan said Bahar should also be charged with exploiting minors and forcing them to participate in the attack.

Police confiscated a machete, a sickle, four samurai swords, a golf club and four wooden poles, as well as musical instruments stolen from the bar.

Little is known about Bahar and his group but the South Jakarta Police chief, Sr. Comr. Imam Sugianto, said this was not Bahar’s first time being on the wrong side of the law.

“In 2010, Habib Bahar and his men attacked an Ahmadiyah congregation in Kebayoran Lama, South Jakarta,” Imam said adding that Bahar was arrested but not charged in the incident.

Jakarta Police Chief Insp. Gen. Untung S. Rajab said earlier that his forces would not tolerate sweeps during Ramadan by radical Muslim groups.

Radical Islamic organizations have threatened to close nightclubs and bars by force if they remain open during the holy month. The city has limited the operational hours of nightclubs and other entertainment centers during Ramadan.

“We will continue to remind hard-line groups not to conduct raids or take matters into their own hands,” Rikwanto said. “If they find someone violating [city regulations] they should report it to us and we will take action against them.”