INDONESIA MUSLIM CLERIC HATE!
Militant Islamic cleric blasts U.S., Australia upon release from Indonesian prison
SOLO, Indonesia (AP) — A militant cleric walked free from prison Wednesday to the cheers of supporters after serving 26 months in prison for conspiracy in the 2002 Bali bombings, and he accused the United States of terrorism in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Abu Bakar Bashir was surrounded by personal security guards as he left Jakarta's Cipinang prison
Bashir, 68, was found guilty of blessing the 2002 Bali attacks, in which 202 people were killed, but cleared of more serious terrorist charges, including heading the al-Qaeda-linked militant group Jemaah Islamiyah. No evidence has ever been presented linking him to the execution, preparation or commission of terrorist attacks.
The United States and Australia, which have accused the firebrand cleric of being a key member of Jemaah Islamiyah, said they were disappointed at his release.
Bashir's followers shouted "God is great!" as he left the prison. He headed immediately to an Islamic school notorious for producing some of Southeast Asia's deadliest terrorists, where he again received a hero's welcome.
Bashir was quick to point his finger at the United States and Australia, calling their leaders "infidels."
"The United States is a state terrorist because it is waging war against Muslims in Iraq and Afghanistan," he said, while stopping at a roadside mosque on the way to the central Javanese city of Solo, a 10-hour journey by road and home to the al-Mukmin boarding school.
Jemaah Islamiyah is accused of carrying out church bombings across Indonesia in 2000, the 2002 bombings on the resort island of Bali, attacks in the capital Jakarta in 2003 and 2004, and a triple suicide bombing on Bali last October. The attacks together killed more than 260 people and have thrust the world's most populous Muslim nation onto the front line of the war on terror.
Victims of the 2002 bombings said they were disappointed to see Bashir go free.
"It's hard to imagine how a leader of a gang ... can get only two years for orchestrating to kill 200 people and injuring many more," said Australian Peter Hughes, 46, who suffered burns to 56% of his body in the attack. "It doesn't make sense."
Australian Brian Deegan, whose 21-year-old son, Josh, died in the bombings, called Bashir's sentence "insulting."
Bashir's freedom has raised concerns that he will energize Indonesia's small, Islamic radical fringe by making impassioned speeches at rallies and mosques, but few believe the soft-spoken cleric will play any direct role in terrorism.
"I think he will reinforce anti-Western feelings, but I don't think he'll necessary push people over the line from radical rhetoric to violence," said Sidney Jones, the leading international expert on Jemaah Islamiyah.
Before the Bali blasts, Bashir was chiefly known for his vocal support of moves to make the secular country an Islamic state and his criticism of U.S. policy toward Muslim countries — themes he pounded on again Wednesday.
Upon arriving in Solo, Bashir stopped briefly at a hospital for a checkup and then went to the al-Mukmin boarding school he founded in 1972, where nearly 500 students greeted him, some pumping their fists in the air and cheering "God is great!"
Several graduates are in prison for involvement in terrorism and at least two others became suicide attackers, but Bashir — who has long said he opposes violence — told the youths that those who carried out the bombings "were wrong."
He urged them to follow his lead and use words to fight for their faith.
"The more bombs there are in Indonesia, the happier the United States will be," he said. "They will clap their hands, because what they're afraid of are sermons, the preaching of Islam."
He vowed to continue campaigning for the introduction of strict Islamic law in Indonesia, which has 190 million Muslims.
The State Department expressed deep disappointment about what it called Bashir's light sentence. Spokesman Sean McCormack said the court concluded he was a participant in "a sinister conspiracy to cause a fire or explosion resulting in deaths."
But, he said, it is up to Indonesians and their courts to interpret their own laws.
Australian Prime Minister John Howard said he, too, felt disillusioned at Bashir's release. Eighty-eight of those killed in the 2002 nightclub blasts on Bali were Australian.
"Many Australians will see that particular outcome ... as an extremely disappointing result," Howard told Parliament, adding that he shared that sentiment.
Indonesia, which has arrested and convicted more than 150 militants in recent years, three of whom were sentenced to death, rejected any suggestion that it was a weak link in the fight against terrorism.
"As he has served his sentence, I hope other countries will not politicize this," said Foreign Minister Hassan Wirajuda.
August 06, 2006
THOUSANDS of Indonesians held street rallies today to condemn Israel's offensive in the Middle East as hardline cleric Abu Bakar Bashir called for a "jihad" force to battle the Jewish state.
In Jakarta, the capital of the world's most populous Muslim nation, more than 3000 people protested outside the UN mission over its failure to halt the violence.
"So far, there are no signs that the United Nations is acting justly as an international institution," Muslim leader Dien Syamsuddin told the crowd.
"We press the Indonesian Government to mobilise solidarity among peace-loving nations in the world to pressure the United Nations to halt the Israeli aggression.
"If the United Nations does nothing because it is influenced by the superpower, America, we call on the government of Indonesia to initiate a vote of non-confidence against the United Nations," said Mr Syamsuddin, who is a deputy chairman of Muhammadiyah, Indonesia's second largest Islamic movement.
The demonstrators had gathered earlier for an inter-religious rally and later marched to the US embassy. The heads of various religions – Islam, Roman Catholicism, Protestants and Buddhists – led the protest.
"Give a Chance to Peace" and Save Children, No War," some of the banners read.
The crowd dubbed Israel "the aggressor" and the US "terrorist".
"Israel should be taken to the International Court of Justice because it has killed a lot of children and women," said a deputy chairman of the Indonesian Council of Ulema, Amidhan.
One group displayed a poster reading "Condemn the sadistical and inhuman actions of Israel, USA and the mayor of west Jakarta".
They were victims of evictions ordered by the mayor.
Bashir, speaking at mass prayers in support of Lebanon and Palestine, called on the Government to let Indonesians join the fight against Israel.
Bashir told some 1000 people in the Central Java town of Pekalongan that Jakarta should try to mobilise a mujahideen force from member countries of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference.
"If it cannot ... at least open the door for citizens who want to engage in jihad (holy war) there," he said.
Bashir was sentenced to 30 months for his role in a "sinister conspiracy" that led to the 2002 Bali bombings, which left 202 people dead, including 88 Australians. He was released from prison in June.
Yesterday a group called the Asian Muslim Youth Movement said it was prepared to send hardliners to attack Jewish interests in countries that back Israel.
In Indonesia's second largest city, Surabaya, around 1500 Muslims held a protest march, El Shinta radio reported. In the city of Yogyakarta, it said, about 3000 people joined protests.
A similar protest involving hundreds of people took place in Medan.
WORD FAITH INDEX
CATHOLIC CHURCH INDEX