Din Syamsuddin, chairman of the Indonesian Ulema Council, or MUI, Advisory Board, said on Wednesday (21/02) that recent incidents against religious leaders and places of worship in the country are "systematic" attacks and called on the National Police to conduct a thorough investigation into the matter. (JG Photo/Sheany)

MUI Calls on National Police to Explain Mounting Attacks on Religious Leaders

BY : SHEANY

FEBRUARY 22, 2018

Jakarta. Din Syamsuddin, chairman of the Indonesian Ulema Council, or MUI, Advisory Board, said on Wednesday (21/02) that recent incidents against religious leaders and places of worship in the country are "systematic" attacks and called on the National Police to conduct a thorough investigation into the matter.

"We’ve concluded that these incidents did not take place in a vacuum, but rather as part of something manufactured and systematic," Din said during a press conference in Jakarta.

MUI cited a series of violent attacks on priests, monks and Muslim clerics, as well as places of worship, across Indonesia since December and expressed concerns over what appears to be mounting incidents.

Earlier this month, a sword-wielding assailant attacked the Saint Lidwina Catholic church in Yogyakarta, injuring four, including a priest and a policeman.

Last week, a Muslim ulema was beaten in an attack in Lamongan, East Java.

Reports on the increasing violent attacks from local media claimed the attackers suffer from mental disorders.

On Wednesday, the MUI Advisory Board held a meeting with the National Counterterrorism Agency (BNPT) and the National Police’s Criminal Investigation Unit (Bareskrim) to discuss the issue.

Bareskrim chief Comr. Gen. Ari Dono Sukmanto said his unit recorded 21 incidents against religious leaders and places of worship between December and February, most of which took place in West Java.

"We are still conducting investigations … we [the police] must not conclude right away that the perpetrators are mentally ill, only medical experts can conclude such things," Ari told reporters after the meeting.

According to Ari, National Police chief Gen. Tito Karnavian has urged his subordinates not to comment on an individual's mental health but instead to let experts determine such diagnoses so as to avoid public misinterpretation.

"Public order police conducts patrols and if they find an individual suspected of suffering from a mental disorder, he will be taken for an examination," Ari explained.

He added that it’s still too early to conclude that the incidents were premeditated.

"MUI is urging the police to provide an explanation as soon as possible, to put an end to all the hubbub going on around these incidents," MUI secretary general Anwar Abbas said.

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