Indonesian Shiites under threat to covert to Sunnis to return homes

Written by  Published by:Shiite News
Published in Asia
Sunday, 29 September 2013

shiite indoThe fate of displaced Shia Muslims is in the dark as government officials and ulema on Madura (Indonesian island off the northeastern coast of Java), question the validity of the peace treaty reached on Tuesday, and urge the Shiites to convert to Sunni teachings if they want to return to their home villages in Sampang.

Sampang Legislative Council member Aksan Jamal claimed that no reconciliation had been made between the Shiites and the local Sunni community regarding the long-term conflict between the two sides. A meeting between concerned parties, namely the local government, ulema and police, had confirmed this, he said.

“The ulema (religious scholars) here still want the Shiites to return to the Ahlusunnah wal Jamaah [Sunni] teachings. After that, we can welcome them back to Sampang,” Aksan claimed on Friday.

“We will keep on trying to persuade them [the Shiites] to return to the teachings, although we are facing resistance from them. The reconciliation process in Sampang can work if they return to the right teachings,” Aksan said.

A local influential ulema, Ali Karrar, claimed the reconciliation that was claimed by particular people was engineered.

“It is obvious that the peace agreement was engineered because many of those present did not come from Bluuran and Karang Gayam villages. There were only five people from those villages,” Ali claimed.

He also claimed that those five people were unaware that any peace treaty was going to be signed, as they had merely been asked to attend a friendship meeting.

Ali was referring to a meeting held on Monday at the displaced Shiites’ shelter at the Jemundo Market in Sidoarjo.

One of the initiators of the peace agreement, Saningwar from Pamekasan in Madura, said that after the meeting, 73 participating Sunnis signed a peace agreement with 35 Shiites.

Saningwar said the Sunni community was eager to initiate the reconciliation, supported as it was by moderate clerics in Madura. He declined, however, to reveal the clerics’ names in order to maintain harmony among Madura’s Muslims.

Saningwar said that, for years, the Madurese had been unaware of any tensions between the Shiite and Sunni communities, until the conflict between the two sects erupted violently last year, which resulted in Shia followers being driven out of their home villages in Sampang.

“We are not intimidated by the local administration, police or ulema, who oppose the reconciliation. We are fine and remain confident that the reconciliation will work,” he said.

He accused those against the peace talks of deliberate intimidation in a bid to provoke the grass-roots community into blocking the return of Shia followers to Sampang.

“It is the responsibility of the government to meet the demands of the Shia followers who want to return home,” he said, adding that the Sunni community was ready to escort the displaced Shiites back to their homes to show their commitment to the peace deal.

The Sampang Sunni-Shiite conflict reached its peak on Aug. 27, 2012, when dozens of homes belonging to Shiites were set alight by a mob. The arson attacks claimed two lives and displaced hundreds of Shiites.

Previously, Shiite cleric Tajul Muluk was sentenced to two years in prison for spreading religious teachings perceived by the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) to be deviant.

Some religious figures in Sampang have repeatedly urged the Shia community and Tajul Muluk followers to return to Sunni teachings, to end the conflict.

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