Ulema Cracks Down on Dissenters

March 20, 2006

Source: Los Angeles Times


On March 20, 2006 the Los Angeles Times reported, "Yusman Roy, a former boxer and a convert to Islam, is serving two years in prison because he believes that Muslims should pray in a language they can understand. Roy, who led bilingual prayer sessions at his small East Java boarding school, is seen as a heretic by conservative Muslims here. They believe true prayer can be conducted only in Arabic. Roy's desire to pray in Indonesian has sparked such an outrage that he was convicted last year in criminal court of 'spreading hatred.' Animosity toward Roy ran so high that police posted guards to keep an angry mob from torching his house and school. Now, he is kept in a cell by himself at overcrowded Lowokwaru prison, and the warden has warned him not to preach to his fellow inmates in any language. Roy is one of at least 10 Muslims incarcerated in recent months for what the Indonesian Council of Ulemas, the country's most influential Muslim body in setting religious policy, has deemed deviant thinking... Indonesia, which has more than 190 million Muslims, the world's largest Islamic population, has become increasingly conservative since the 1998 collapse of President Suharto's military regime. In recent years, the government has grown more active in enforcing religious law. In recent months, fatwas issued by the Indonesian Council of Ulemas and its regional councils denouncing clerics and cults as deviant have been followed by arrests, prosecution and sometimes mob violence against the accused."