In Indonesia, Shia blood is halal! Part II

shia uk 08In Indonesia, Shia blood is halal! Part II
by Andre Vltchek and Rossie Indira

The covered tennis court in the city of Sampang, is where the refugees from the area that we earlier visited, had been given temporary shelter. There are armored vehicles parked at the gate and security personnel, that don’t allow anyone to enter.
We ‘gate crash’; park the car and I dash in, with a total disregard for the shouts and attempts to stop me – hardened by my work in the refugee camps of DR Congo, Uganda, Rwanda, Kenya and Turkey.
Here, refugees talk. They are outraged, and hurt. It feels like they have nothing to lose:
“We feel damaged, angry and disappointed, and we hold the government responsible”, explains a young man– Nur Kholis. “Our rights were stolen from us. We did nothing wrong to those who killed and destroyed us.”
“We are now waiting for justice. As the Shia minority, we are discriminated against.
We only have a few differences with Sunnis, and there is no reason for conflict. We always have to remember that we have more similarities than differences. But Shi’a people are now called kafirs; we are labeled asnajis. They say that, Shi’a people change wives like animals. All these are lies, but people here believe it.”
And then he, in his own words, comes to the same conclusion as Nur Huda Ismail:
“Madurese believe what their big Imams say. There is no questioning them, even if they are wrong and obviously totally corrupt! Do you know that MUI Sampang (The Council of Ulemas in Sampang) issued a fatwa(Islamic edict), that Shia teaching is squarely misguided and heretic? The government did nothing! And now they want us to leave, instead of returning home; they are trying to relocate us to another island – far away Sulawesi!”
Hanny, a sister of two Imams who were in a dispute over the fate of the girl from boarding school, is even more explicit:
“I think that the majority of the people of Madura know very little about the differences between Sunni and Shi’a Muslims. But their Imams told them that the teaching of Shia is heretic, un-Islamic and that the Sunni teachings are the only correct ones. Sunni Imams want us to disappear from Madura Island; we are becoming political refugees. For them, the violence directed at us is justifiable; it is halal because they think we are like dirt, like shit, haram, najis. I saw one of the attackers, Seniwan, at the police station when he was detained. Later I was told that he was seen at the market! Maybe he has a double…” she adds sarcastically.

During the interviews with the victims, I film and photograph the refugees. An old couple catches my eye. A woman and a man radiate terrible grief. I don’t know what it is that I feel, but it is almost as if my hand, holding the camera, keeps turning the lens towards them. I follow my instinct and begin photographing, discreetly, somehow embarrassed. A woman moves. She utters a heart-wrenching sound. I suddenly have goose bumps on my back.
“Who are they?” I ask Hanny. “Who is she?”
“She is the mother of a man who was killed… they are his parents”, she replies.
As always, in such situations, a short stab of hopelessness is soon replaced with a desire to inform, and to change things.
I bow to an old woman and go back to work.

Two young women, two Shi’a teachers, are literally holed in their girl’s boarding school. They are so cute, defenseless and kind-hearted, that I instantly feel these could be two women I would like to have as my sisters.

But they are tough. They know that they are besieged, in danger, and exposed, but they do not abandon their posts.
Across the road is a small Sunni mosque, a mussola, full of heavy guns pointing at the Shi’a boarding school. ‘Guns’ consist of powerful loudspeakers, and of being part of the overwhelming Sunni majority, that is showered with money from the Gulf.

Naila Zakiyah, is a lecturer at the Shi’a school for girls: Al Mahadul Islami:
“In a light of recent events, we are naturally worried about the safety of our students. We are supposed to educate girls here, but there is a group of people that is trying to undermine our efforts… Yes, we feel discriminated against… Before this year’s Ramadhan, the mussola Al Anwar from across the street broadcasted their sermon twice a week. They had their loudspeakers directed towards our school. They were shouting that Shi’a teaching is misguided, and that our blood is haram. It is said that those who are attacking us, are being funded by money from Saudi Arabia. I don’t have any proof but that is what people say. In 2007, there were 500 people demonstrating in front of our boarding school; that time the funds came from KSA. Each person was given US$2. These were uneducated people; I doubt they knew what they were being used for.”

The teachers and us exchanged mobile numbers, and then we simply crossed the road, and went directly to their torturers; to men known for shooting hate-coated verbal missiles towards those nice Shi’a teachers and their students. We marched to the Mushala Al Anwar, and fetched Mr. Atoilah.

While somehow embarrassed whilst visiting the Shi’a boarding school, I suddenly felt extremely halal here, with my US passport sticking out from my pocket. I was aware that I was entering a territory that was so kindly embraced and caressed by Wahhabi wisdom and by its guardian, the KSA – one of the closest allies of our dear and gentle, starred and striped Empire.

Mr. Atoilah was at first surprised by our interest, then he played shy, but by the end he regained his natural militant and boorish self, and as expected, went ballistic:
“The teaching of Shi’a deviates from Islamic teaching; therefore we have so many essential differences. The Shi’a minority once promised that they will convert to Sunni, but they lied to us… And so it seemed that we couldn’t talk to them in a subtle way, anymore. If they don’t want to convert, then we have to use violence. In our opinion, they are kafir. We will not be at peace with them until we die, even if our lives are at stake. They have already insulted Islam! If the police do not take action against the Shi’a, we will resort to violence.”

He produces an amateur brochure, a photocopy of a pamphlet proclaiming, “The Truth About Shi’a” on its cover.

“Here, read this”, he hands us a copy. Sponsored by LPPI (Institute for Islamic Research and Study) based in Jakarta, it reads. Then he adds: “We are part of NU, you know.”
NU is one of the biggest, if not the biggest independent Muslim organization in the world, with an estimated membership base of 30 million people.
“Astaga”, we think; which could be loosely translated as ‘Oh damn it!’

Mr. Atoilah is smiling, victoriously.

People from the Shiite minority are petrified. Many are now practicing their faith in secret; most of them keep it to themselves. Even in the big cities, it is now difficult to make people go on record and identify themselves as Shi’a.

It is said that there are approximately 1 million Shi’a Muslims in Indonesia, an official number, quoted by the Indonesian press. But at all the religious Shi’a schools that we visited, teachers laugh at those numbers. They say that there are several millions of their brothers and sisters all over the archipelago, although nobody bothers to keep a count. And despite the persecution, their numbers are growing.
Naturally those millions cannot count on the protection of the State, and, the same can be said about the other religious and ethnic minorities. In Indonesia the majority rules, and it rules ruthlessly.
Here, the assassins go free and the victims end up in prisons.

According to the Jakarta Globe, it was actually two people, not one, killed on August 2012. As was reported one day later:

Around 30 Shi’ites, most of them children, were traveling from Nangkernang village… they were stopped by around 500 men from the mainstream Muslim groups…”, said Umi Kutsum, who was at the scene… “Two people died,” she said. “Five were wounded as they were trying to protect the women and children. I was petrified… The mob had swords and machetes…” Among the group, were Umi’s children, who were taken away from her. The mob then torched four homes belonging to the Shi’ite community, including one belonging to Umi and her husband, the Shia cleric Tajul Muluk…”

The August attack was the second one in this area. On December 29, 2011, hard-line Muslim groups burned down hundreds of homes in and around Nangkernang, displacing around 500 people. The Shia Islamic School was destroyed, as well.

In a move that illustrates the ‘impartiality’ of the Indonesian justice system, instead of pursuing the mob leaders (everybody in the area knows who they are), the police instead charged a Shia cleric with blasphemy. And, as was even reported by the Jakarta Globe, the Ministry of Religious Affairs office in Sampang, said it would ‘supervise’ hundreds of Shia to learn Sunni Islam.
That proved too much for some.

(To be continued) (Courtesy:


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