Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Backlash Against Radicals At East Java Mosque

In a rarely seen community backlash against Muslim radicals, residents in a Surabaya neighborhood in the East Java capital shut down the Al Ihsan Sabilillah Mosque for three full days before agreeing to reopen it. The mosque hosted study meetings for hard-line Muslims, and had invited militant cleric Abu Bakar Bashir (alleged mastermind of the Bali Bombings) to speak regularly.

Thhe mosque’s senior cleric once headed the Indonesian Mujahideen Council, an organization advocating the implementation of Shariah law in Indonesia, until he resigned last year following a schism with rivals in the group. He has also been accused of serving as the spiritual leader of the Jemaah Islamiyah terrorist network.

Local residents also expressed objections to the cleric’s use of the mosque to promote his group. The resentment came to a head as the group’s meetings became more frequent following the return of Umar’s son, Saifudin, also known as Abu Fida, who had served out a prison term for a minor role in the 2002 Bali bombings that left 202 people dead.

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