INDEPENDENT NEWS

Cablegate: Abb Shunned in West Sumatra

Published: Fri 25 Aug 2006 11:55 AM
VZCZCXRO1324
PP RUEHTRO
DE RUEHJA #0576 2371155
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 251155Z AUG 06
FM AMEMBASSY JAKARTA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 9132
INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS
RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 9886
RUEHDM/AMEMBASSY DAMASCUS 0051
RUEHWL/AMEMBASSY WELLINGTON 1012
RUEHTRO/USLO TRIPOLI 0021
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC
RHHMUNA/USCINCPAC HONOLULU HI
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC
RUEAWJB/DOJ WASHDC
RHHJJAA/JICPAC HONOLULU HI
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC
RUCXNMC/NATMARINTCEN WASHINGTON DC
RUCNFB/DIRFBI WASHDC
UNCLAS JAKARTA 010576
SIPDIS
SIPDIS
AIDAC
SENSITIVE
Dept for EAP/MTS and S/CT
DOJ for CTS Thornton, AAG SWARTZ
FBI for ETTIU/SSA Roth
NSC for Holly Morrow
From American Consulate Medan # 28, 2006
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PTER PREL PGOV KISL KJUS ASEC AS ID
SUBJECT: ABB Shunned in West Sumatra
Ref: Jakarta 10563
1. (SBU) Summary: In contrast with the relative success Abu
Bakar Ba'asyir received in Java, he got a very cool
reception during his recent visit to staunchly Muslim West
Sumatra, where local religious leaders blocked him from
speaking at the largest and most influential mosques and
school officials prevented him from speaking at a local
university. Ba'asyir did speak before a small group on the
grounds of the parliament and preach at a relatively
uninfluential mosque. As in Java, his subject was the
imposition of syariah law. End Summary.
2. (SBU) Several Muslim groups including Front Pembela
Syariat Islam Padang (FPIP), Hizbut Tahir, (HTI) and Dewan
Dakwah (DDI) invited Abu Bakar Ba'asyir to Padang, West
Sumatra, for two high-profile events: leading the Friday,
July 28 prayers at an influential Mosque and giving a public
address in the town center.
3. (SBU) According to leaders from Muhammadiyah and the
Prosperous Justice Party in Padang, Ba'asyir hoped to lead
Friday prayers and speak at Taqwa Mosque, one of the city's
largest and most influential. Taqwa's(Muhammadiyah)ulemas,
however, rejected this plan at the last minute with a
transparently weak excuse: the mosque's regular imam was
already scheduled to preach. Ba'asyir's schedulers then
proposed that he lead the prayers at the large Ganting
mosque (unaffiliated), but Ganting's leaders rejected him as
well. In the end, Ba'asyir was relegated to preaching at the
smaller, relatively unimportant, Al-Ustah mosque.
4. (SBU) Plans for Ba'asyir's public address met similar
obstacles. Organizers intended for Ba'asyir to speak at Imam
Bonjol field near the center of town. Local authorities,
however, rejected this plan. When organizers tried to
relocate the event to Eka Sakti University they found
themselves blocked by the University rector. Ultimately,
Ba'asyir was able to speak to a group of approximately 100
people outside the parliament building.
5. (SBU) At the parliament building Ba'asyir spoke about the
imposition of Syariah internationally. According to an Ulema
from Muhammadiyah, the message fell flat because the
predominant Minang people already blend Syariah into their
daily life and culture.
6. (SBU) A member of parliament from the Prosperous Justice
Party (PKS) who attended the speech said the audience's
response was flat and that far fewer people attended than
the organizers expected. He also said that people did not
respond to the message because the "Minang people of West
Sumatra tend to be objective" and, clearly attacking
Ba'asyir's message, said that the "Minang only support
correct ideas and teaching." A local journalist described
the cool reception Ba'asyir received by saying it was as if
the people had "lost their tradition of treating guests with
respect".
7. (SBU) Comment: Of Sumatra's many ethnic groups, two stand
out for the important role Islam plays in their culture and
identity: the Acehnese of North Sumatra and the Minang of
West Sumatra. In the case of the Minang, it appears that the
groups' strong cultural association with Islam may help
inoculate it from more radical ideology. It also shows
that, in West Sumatra at least, leaders of mainstream Muslim
groups, particularly Muhammidiyah, are willing to actively
shun extremists like Ba'asyir. End comment.
Pascoe
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