News / Asia

Indonesian Muslims Express No Sympathy on Death of Osama bin Laden

Indonesian painter S. Wito wipes his painting of Osama bin Laden and former U.S. President George Bush at his street-side studio in Jakarta, Indonesia, May 2, 2011.
Indonesian painter S. Wito wipes his painting of Osama bin Laden and former U.S. President George Bush at his street-side studio in Jakarta, Indonesia, May 2, 2011.
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In Indonesia, a country with the largest Muslim population in the world, many people voiced support for the U.S. operation that killed Osama bin Laden

Although Indonesia is home to a variety of militant Islamic organizations that have carried out attacks against Western targets, the country has a history of religious diversity and moderation.

So it is not surprising that Darma Widjaya, like many of the Muslims who came to midday prayers at the Sunda Kelapa mosque in Jakarta Monday expressed no sympathy upon hearing of the death of Osama bin Laden.

He says it is quite good for the entire world, because bin Laden is a terrorist.

Another mosque visitor who was leaving morning prayers, Dadang Solihin, said he hopes that the death of the man responsible for the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, that killed nearly 3,000 people in New York and Washington, D.C., will make the world a safer place.

"It is a good thing.  Maybe it is a time for people to, I mean for the situation in the world to be cooling down," said Solihin.

Sitting at a lunch cart outside the mosque, Ellen Sitorus says Bin Laden's death is good news for Indonesia's fight against terrorism.

She says when she heard that bin Ladin was killed, she was very happy because the number of terrorists like those that haunt Indonesia is decreasing.

There are small groups of radical Muslims in Indonesia that have been affiliated or influenced by bin Laden.  These groups continue to advocate and execute violent attacks against westerners and urge assassinations against government officials and moderate Muslim Indonesian leaders.

The Indonesian terrorist organization Jemaah Islamiyah, which wants to establish an Islamic state in Southeast Asia, is reported have ties to bin Laden's Al Qaida terror network.  The group has been involved in several terrorist attacks in recent years, including the 2002 Bali Bombing that killed more than 200 people.  In 2010, a new terrorist group that called itself Al Qaida in Aceh was discovered operating a training camp in Sumatra.

Azyumardi Azra, a professor of history at the State Islamic University, says news of Bin Laden’s death could incite these militant groups to retaliate.

"I think the death of Osama bin Laden would revive the resentment and also hatred against the U.S., so I think particularly with the show of joy in a number of cities in the West,” he said. “Particularly in the U.S."

He says, although anti-American sentiment will likely increase within radical circles, most Indonesians remain supportive of the U.S. military action taken to kill Osama Bin Laden.

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