Islamic vigilantes terrorise children’s birthday party looking for prostitutes, locals fight back

CNN Indonesia – January 22, 2018
LPI members in Madura hold poster opposing prostitution - January 22, 2018 (Antara)
LPI members in Madura hold poster opposing prostitution - January 22, 2018 (Antara)

Prima Gumilang, Jakarta – A sweeping action (raid) by the Islamic Defenders Militia (Laskar Pembela Islam, LPI) has ended in a clash with residents of Pamekasan on Madura Island in East Java. Local people resisted the raid which resulted in 10 people being injured including housewives and children.

The LPI, which is affiliated with the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI), conducted the sweep in the Ponteh village in Galis sub-district, Pamekasan, on Friday January 19. The group suspected that the one of the houses in the village was being used as an illegal brothel.

One of the eyewitnesses to the incident, Agus Aini, explained how the children who witnessed the clash were traumatised.

“When it happened, there was a children’s birthday party at the house. A group of people wearing white clothing suddenly arrived and dragged out women who come to the house to bring their children to the birthday party”, said Agus as quoted by the Antara news agency on Sunday January 21.

The LPI suspected that the group of women that they dragged out of the house were commercial sex workers (PSK). According to Agus however, the women were housewives who had been invited to celebrate the birthday party.

In response to the raid, local residents and Agus’ neighbours immediately sprang to the women’s defence. A clash between the LPI members and residents was unavoidable. Agus even feigned during the incident when LPI members tried to forcibly drag him away.

“Many of the children were terrified, crying hysterically, it was like a carok [a Maduran traditional fight for honour], what’s more the LPI militia carried clubs”, said Agus.

District Police Criminal Investigation Unit Chief Deputy Police Commissioner Hari Siswo said that police have collected several pieces of material evidence related to the clash.

These includes glass from a LPI car window that was smashed by residents, several clubs that are believed to have been brought by LPI members and a chili powder sprayer which was used by LPI members during the raid.

Based on police data, five Ponteh village residents were injured in the clash. They were Agus Aini (35), Satruki (45), Hamidi (28), Hamid (28) and Suramlah (55). One LPI member was also injured.

“These five people, all of them are residents of Dusung Langtolang, Ponteh village, Galis sub-district”, said Siswo as quoted by Antara.

Satruki suffered contusions to his upper body and forehead after being hit by a club. Hamidi meanwhile suffered injuries to his eyes after being sprayed by chili water.

In addition to this, Hamid suffered chest injuries while the other victim, Suramlah, is suffering from shock after narrowly escaping a beating by LPI members.

Siswo said that police would thoroughly investigate the use of violence in the name of religion that took place in Pamekasan. Aside from upsetting the local community, according to Siswo, the case has attracted the attention of the national leadership.

“This LPI case is the same thing as disregarding the role of security personnel and law enforcement officials in this country”, he said.

LPI Madura commander-in-chief Abd Aziz Muhammad Syahid says that the group conducted the raid as part of putting Islamic teachings into practice.

“This clearly clashes with Islamic law, as well as the vision and mission of the Pamekasan regency which is implementing Islamic law through the Islamic Community Development Movement (Gerbang Salam)”, said Aziz.

Before carrying out the raid, said Aziz, the LPI had requested that the regional government and law enforcement officials carry out a program to curb prostitution in Pamekasan. According to Aziz however, the request was not heeded.

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was Sweeping Laskar FPI dan Perlawanan Balik Warga Pamekasan.]