In Indonesia, Idul Fitri festivities tempered by security worries

Leaders preach love, unity and kindness to the faithful on the biggest Muslim festival.

By Aditya Surya for Khabar Southeast Asia in Jakarta

August 17, 2013
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Tens of thousands of Muslims crowded Indonesia's largest mosque, Masjid Istiqlal in Jakarta, on August 8th, celebrating Idul Fitri. President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (SBY), Vice President Boediono, House of Representatives Speaker Marzuki Alie, and Jakarta Governor Joko Widodo were among the worshippers.

  • Muslims attend Idul Fitri prayers at the historic Sunda Kelapa port in Jakarta on August 8th. Tens of millions of Muslims in Indonesia celebrated the occasion in peace, despite worrisome crimes in the days just before. [Romeo Gacad/AFP]

    Muslims attend Idul Fitri prayers at the historic Sunda Kelapa port in Jakarta on August 8th. Tens of millions of Muslims in Indonesia celebrated the occasion in peace, despite worrisome crimes in the days just before. [Romeo Gacad/AFP]

"Let's greet Idul Fitri, our victory, with a clean heart. Congratulations and happy Idul Fitri 1434 Hijriah," SBY said in a greeting via his Twitter account.

He also marked the arrival of Idul Fitri in a video uploaded on YouTube in which he stated, "I want to celebrate Idul Fitri with everyone. Let's make Idul Fitri a time to build a better day for tomorrow. Indonesia is more advanced, more secure, and more prosperous."

Security worries

The message was well-received, but many Indonesians felt worried about security following a string of incidents in the days just before Idul Fitri.

"I think the president's message of security is important. We are glad that so far Idul Fitri is secure. However, we need to tighten our security as many incidents of attacks are still occurring," Cahyo Sutanto, a 36 year-old graduate student from the Atmajaya University in Jakarta, told Khabar Southeast Asia.

Wahyu Suryo, a 56-year-old Jakarta resident, expressed similar concerns. "We are happy that we passed Ramadan and are now celebrating Idul Fitri. However, it does not mean we are not worried about the current situation, especially here in Jakarta. Within the last seven days, three horrible incidents occurred, and all are suspected to be linked to terrorism."

On August 4th, two low-intensity bombs exploded at the Ekayana Buddhist Centre in West Jakarta, injuring three people. Two days later, two Molotov cocktails were discovered in the backyard of Asisi, a Catholic senior high school in Tebet, South Jakarta. Additionally, a police officer, Dwiyatna, was reportedly shot dead in Cilandak, South Jakarta, just one day before Idul Fitri, on August 7th.

Also on August 7th, in Yogyakarta, a policeman named Agus Susetya was rushed to hospital after being shot by unknown assailants. "He (Agus Susetya) was shot twice at home," Yogyakarta Police Chief Haka Astana confirmed to Khabar.

Gamas Adiprasetyo, Agus's 13 year-old son, told Tempo the two perpetrators used a motorcycle and fled on it after the shooting.

A time for love and unity

Farid Wadji, the rector of the Islamic State University's Ar-Raniry Darrusalam in Banda Aceh, told Muslims that Idul Fitri is a time for kindness and love.

"We should encourage everyone to be kind. This is the time for all Muslims to have a reborn spirit," he said, delivering his message during the Eid prayer at the Istiqlal Mosque.

The Sultan of Yogyakarta, Hamengkubowono X, conveyed to citizens that Islam is the solution to many of society's problems.

"Islam is able to provide answers to the problems of the people - at the individual, community, and country level," he told the public as quoted by the Harianjogya.

The Sultan added that Muslim should adopt a new perspective when approaching today's problems. "Muslims needs to love each other," he stressed.

A similar sentiment was expressed by Muhammad Murwanto, a 45 year-old cleric in Central Jakarta.

"We should believe that by loving each other, there will be no hatred among religious followers," he told Khabar by phone.

When asked about the various attacks in the country, Muhammad said that Muslims and non-Muslims must stand together.

"There are many attacks in Jakarta and other places. However, they are not Jihad. They are stupid actions conducted by those who want insecurity in our country. Therefore, Muslims and non-Muslims must be united," he said.

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