Ghinan Salman, Surabaya – The Kraksaan sectoral police in Probolinggo, East Java, have reportedly returned four books with communist themes to literacy activists that are part of the Vespa Literacy community.
But the books were not in fact given straight back to Vespa Literacy. Following mediation with the Kraksaan sectoral police, the books had to be handed over the Probolinggo chapter of the country’s peak Islamic religious body the Indonesia Ulama Council (MUI).
East Java MUI provincial secretary Muhammad Yunus has confirmed that the books are currently being held by the Probolinggo MUI.
“We are holding the books for the moment. We, the MUI, want to study the content of the books which became [the cause of such a] lively public discussion”, said Yunus when sought for confirmation on Wednesday July 31.
Yunus said that aside from wanting to study them, one of the reasons they took the books was because the MUI has come under pressure from a number of groups who oppose the books content.
Because of this therefore, he asserted that their taking of the books was not a confiscation or seizure. In this case, he said, the Probolinggo MUI was only acting as a mediator or peace negotiator.
“We didn’t seize them, but this was also because of pressure from groups which don’t want the books to circulate anymore”, he said.
Aside from this, Yunus added that the MUI also regrets the attitude taken by several popular figures, literacy activists and netizens on social media who strongly opposed the book seizures by police.
Yunus is of the view that the police’s seizure of the books should not have attracted such excessive attention because the books contain communist ideology which is clearly banned in Indonesia in accordance with Tap MPRS Number XXV/1966.
“We regret the attitude of [senior television journalist] Dik [little brother] Najwa Shihab and [singer-songwriter] Dik Glenn Fredly who seem to find fault in it, yet these books contain communist ideas, and that’s very dangerous, young people must know this”, said Yunus.
As reported earlier, two literacy activists in Probolinggo, Muntasir Billah (24) and Saiful Anwar (25) were arrested by police for bringing four books with communist themes to a free reading stall at the Kraksaan public square on Saturday July 27.
The communist themed books included the titles The Two Faces of Dipa Nusantara (Dua Wajah Dipa Nusantara), Embarking on the People’s Road (Menempuh Djalan Rakjat), DN Aidit a Short Biography (DN Aidit Sebuah Biografi Ringkas) and Sukarno, Marxism & Leninism (Sukarno, Marxisme & Leninisme) by renowned Indonesian historian Peter Kasenda.
The two were arrested and questioned by the Kraksaan sectoral police on Saturday to obtain information about the ownership of the books that were brought to the stall.
After being questioned for several hours the literacy activists were then allowed to return home but the four books were confiscated by the Kraksaan sectoral police.
Tap MPRS XXV/1966 – Provisional People’s Consultative Assembly Decree Number XXV/1966 on the Dissolution of the Indonesian Communist Party and Prohibitions on Marxist, Leninist and Communist Teachings.
[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was “MUI Ambil Alih Buku DN Aidit dan Sayangkan Sikap Najwa Shihab”.]