News / Asia

Indonesian Fundamentalist Group Holds Prayer Service for Osama bin Laden

Portrait of Osama Bin Laden and U.S. President Barack Obama are projected on a screen during a prayer for the slain al-Qaida leader at the headquarters of hardline group Islam Defenders Front (FPI) in Jakarta, Indonesia, May 4, 2011
Portrait of Osama Bin Laden and U.S. President Barack Obama are projected on a screen during a prayer for the slain al-Qaida leader at the headquarters of hardline group Islam Defenders Front (FPI) in Jakarta, Indonesia, May 4, 2011
Brian Padden

In Indonesia, a Muslim fundamentalist organization, the Islamic Defenders Front, held a prayer service late Wednesday for Osama bin Laden. The head of the country's highest Islamic body expressed approval for the peaceful prayer service, but also support for the U.S. military action that killed the al-Qaida leader. 

Ahmad Shobri Lubis, the secretary general of the Islamic Defenders Front, praised the slain al-Qaida leader for standing up against American power. He says bin Laden is a symbol of Muslim resistance to what he calls American hegemony in the world.

Although the prayer service was overflowing with hundreds of the group's supporters, their extremist views represent only a very small minority within Indonesia.

Amidhan, the chairman of the Indonesia Ulema Council, the country's highest Islamic body, represents a more mainstream view of bin Laden. He says bin Laden is not a Muslim leader, because he killed with acts of terrorism and Islam's way is peaceful.

Indonesia has also suffered from terrorist attacks from groups affiliated with al Qaida or influenced by bin Laden's ideology. One such group, Jemaah Islamiyah, was involved in several attacks in the last decade, including the 2002 Bali bombing that killed over 200 people.

Amidhan says most Indonesian Muslims support the U.S. right to track down and even kill the man who orchestrated the September 11, 2001 terror attacks that killed close to 3,000 people. But he is concerned with news that bin Laden's body was buried at sea, without what he called a proper Muslim burial. He said could incite retribution from extremist elements.

He says it could create the impression of throwing animals into the sea and that could increase anger and terrorism in the world.

Amidhan says that although the killing of bin Laden might incite those already pre-disposed to hate America, it will have little negative effect on the vast majority of the country.

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