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Anger grows over rise of hardline Muslim group

ICC note: Indonesia reacts against Islamic Defenders’ Front, which called for armed militias against Christians

7/1/10 Indonesia (UCAN) – Civil and religious leaders throughout Indonesia are calling on the government and national police to ban a hardline Islamic group, accusing it of violence against religious and expressive freedom.

“The violence committed by the Islamic Defenders’ Front has been systematic and is threatening to society,” said Ribka Tjiptaning, a lawmaker, on June 30.

She lambasted national police chief Bambang Hendaso Danuri and minister of domestic affairs Gamawam Fauzi for their slow response to the issue. She also urged Indonesia’s Human Rights Commission to make a statement on the faction at its next plenary session.

Her remarks come after an incident in East Java the previous day, when she and legislator Rieke Diah Pitaloka met local officials to discuss community healthcare. The meeting was disrupted and summarily closed down by Islamic Defenders’ Front members.

The group has been linked with numerous acts of anti-Christian violence throughout the country. It has also been at the forefront of aggressive Islamic initiatives, such as a militia training program at mosques in Bekasi, West Java.

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