At least three members of a family were injured in a sectarian attack on Shias attending a pre-wedding celebration in predominantly Sunni Muslim Indonesia, police said.
More than 100 thugs calling themselves Troops of Mojo, Kenteng and Mojolaban gathered outside a house in Surakarta in Central Java province on Aug. 8 to protest again Shias holding a traditional Javanese pre-wedding ceremony called a midodareni. The ceremony involves the families of the bride and groom saying prayers to wish them a happy life together.
Shouting anti-Shia slogans, the protesters claimed the family’s celebration, attended by about 20 people, was a Shia Muslim activity, not a traditional Javanese ritual, and demanded that it be halted. At least three family members suffered injuries after being pelted with stones as they tried to flee the house.
Pasar Kliwon subdistrict police chief Adhis Dhani told reporters that investigators were searching for those responsible. Halili, research director for the Setara Institute for Democracy and Peace, condemned the attack, saying such acts of intolerance had no place in Indonesian society.
“Intolerance, discrimination and persecution against religious minorities in this country do not only violate the law but also go against our national motto of unity in diversity,” he told UCA News.
He said the attack could spark conflict between religious groups and called on police to act swiftly and make an example of the perpetrators to avoid similar incidents in the future.
Sholahuddin Aly of the Ansor Youth Movement — the youth wing of Nahdlatul Ulama, the largest Islamic organization in Indonesia — said several group members had met with local police to voice their concern about the attack.
“We want local police to take strict action against this disturbing incident,” he told UCA News. “This is also the government’s concern. It must not give space to any intolerant group in Indonesia as these groups can damage our interreligious harmony.”
Ahmad Hidayat, secretary-general of Indonesian Ahlul Bait, a Shia Muslim group, called the attack shameful.
“I know the owner of the house. He is my best friend, and I visit him often,” he told UCA News.
He acknowledged that Shia activities were often held in the home.
“However, he was observing a Javanese tradition that day. It is normal for such gatherings to take place ahead of a wedding ceremony,” he said, adding that there are nearly 2,000 Shia Muslims in the city.