Banser Squares Up To Islamist Intimidation!


Weii, nearly a week ago, I did promise I’d report back to you on the situation in Bandungan, where ordinary townspeople had taken to the streets for fear of marauding IslamoNazi thugs. Such a rare and heartily welcome show of defiance against the intolerant FPI deserved not only attention but warm applause.

However, it wasn’t till last night that I found an update, though it evidently appeared in Sunday’s issue of Kompas.com.

So here you are – though the report identifies the threat to law and order down there not as the FPI but as their ideological soul-mates in the Kaaba Youth Movement, GPK, some 200 of whose  members  rallied at a number of entertainment venues in Semarang regency.

=

=

Their ‘sweeping’ activity almost ended in clashes with dozens of members of Banser, that since the morning had been guarding tourist areas in Bandungan.

Banser, for new readers, is the youth wing of Ansor, the paramilitary section of the NU, the Nahdlatul Ulama, the largest moderate Muslim organisation in Indonesia. It is not unusual for political and religious movements to have uniformed ‘security’ wings here.  And given the threat from anti-social bands like the FPI, these can be handy at times!

=

=

Luckily police officers from Semarang successfully deployed into the field to separate the two organizations so that clashes could  be avoided. ‘Troops’ dressed all in black with badges identifying them as ‘Division Merbabu GPK Gabriel’ began the action at the village of Mendut Sukosari and Tegalpanas.

=

But instead of defenceless townsfolk, the black-shirts came face to face with Banser!

Chairman of the Central Java Kaaba, Syihabudin felt it was going too far to call it sweeping.

According to him, their action was making clear the Circular Letter of the Regent on Prohibitions of Opening. “It’s also to appeal to owners of hotels, entertainment venues, and shops in order to respect the holy month of Ramadan. If there is a shop which is open during the day, we were reminding them to cover up, so not to be visible from the outside,” he said.

Just a gentle reminder? Backed up by TWO HUNDRED black-shirt enforcers?

“We deplore that Banser were out at a number of these locations. They should be on guard at churches and temples, not at places of  entertainment or immorality. Obviously it’s strange when Banser is at such places during Ramadan,” he said.

Or perhaps it’s strange for these Islamist fanatics to be out intimidating everyone who wants to enjoy the weekend? Perhaps it’s downright asinine to tell eateries they have to close or curtain themselves because some people don’t choose to eat!

Not every Indonesian regards going to a bar as an act of ‘immorality!’ Not everybody is fasting. Why cannot Syihabudin show a little respect for those who don’t think like him.

There’s no way having fun at a bar or karaoke is ‘disrespecting’ those who want to stay home or go to the mosque. Both activities can be pursued without infringing on the other. If that sounds like stating the obvious, rest assured, there are penty of bigots here who’d think it an outlandish assertion.

Meanwhile, Deputy Commander Banser in Karangtopo Village, Munif Ahmad, told reporters that his men’s presence in Bandungan was due to public demand. “Our presence in Bandungan is only to help to secure and maintain an atmosphere conducive to peace,” said Ahmad Munif.

Well said Mr. Munif!

It’s about time similar civic-minded citizens showed the same commitment to combatting the forces of darkness all over Indonesia.