Monday, November 10, 2008


The execution is over and what lies ahead for the government is not only putting to death terrorists and their bombs but more importantly, defusing ideas, thoughts that terrorism has romantic, heroic, or human sides do not exist here in Indonesia

The three bombers, Imam Samudra, Amrozi and Ali Gufron, who had been responsible for the lost lives of hundreds of innocents in 2002 Bali bombings, were finally executed November 9, 2008. The execution has diverse mixed opinions but the opinion so prevalent and convincing is one that turns people into believing that the perpetrators are victims. Thanks to the media, especially TV stations, they have covered, on the ground they must cover all sides, acts that are branded as support to terrorism have been portrayed as positively equal significance as those (acts) denouncing it. “What the TV stations have been reporting is a free propaganda for the terrorists” says columnist Soeryo Winoto, as quoted by Time.

One of these exposures is the bombers’ interviews that their execution is hoped to trigger revenge attack in Indonesia. Another reporting is images of relatives and supporters weeping and praying that fueled sympathy. Believed to be a small number, these people were taken advantages by the media and at the same time they had their moment telling the whole world their bombers were the scapegoats. Even after they are dead, one of these bombers’ written will that all Moslems must wage a holy war against the enemy of Islam was aired like a fallen hero’s story worth rekindling.

Prominent religious figures have also aggravated the perception. One of them, leader Jammah Islamiah Abu Bakar Ba’asyir, who has staunch followers, said that if they are executed that means they died in a battlefield and he said according to Islamic laws, those who die in war die as martyrs and become holy warriors and National Mandate Party’s Amien Rais was quoted in Media Indonesia saying “It is impossible for a simple santri (student at Islamic boarding school) to make bombs like those of the Bali bombings. I have asked my colleagues who have doctorates in physics, and it turns out that the powerful bombs like those of the Bali bombings must be made in a laboratory. Therefore, the government must find out the real mastermind”.

All these are serious. First, these airing would convince the majority, those already doubtful of the authority, ignorant, low educated, poor and easily manipulated, that the government has indeed always wanted to crush them whatever it takes and second, in a society where people look up to and show obedience in the religious leaders more than they do the government, what the leaders believe is what the followers believe.

And because of these reasons the government must cut off this ongoing martyrdom. First, the government must encourage, if not compel, those media they not put display this act of evil in a way that draw sympathy; the media are there promote more civilization and not to funnel the sentiments, especially the religious ones (that have always found popular ground among Indonesians). Depicting those terrorists in a way they posses all these adorable morality and politeness that the public needs to know of simply runs the greatest risk of raising sympathy that somehow their bombing is somehow understandable and forgivable.
Second, the government should do is to address publicly and continuously that there is no such thing like opposition to Islam and an act of terrorism is an act terrorism whatever the mask there are there to wear. So far, it is only MUI, Indonesia Ulema Council, that publicly denounced that the bombing an act of evil. This is not enough; like I said above here people in Indonesia see individuals more than they see institutions and because of that, it is the leaders, especially the religious ones, not the institution they are under, that state publicly that Amrozi, Imam Samudra and Gufron were terrorists though the three claimed they were Moslems. There is nothing religious or Islamic about that whatsoever.

But this is more easily said than done; these politicians know better. They know the people to be addressed with this issue are poor, low educated, ignorant and easily manipulated and they make up the majority of the population. Doing so is risking losing constituents for 2009 General Election.

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