Last Updated: Tue Nov 02, 2010 17:33 pm (KSA) 14:33 pm (GMT)

Emotions boil over as Bali bombers buried

Family members and supporters of executed Bali bomber carry his coffin
Family members and supporters of executed Bali bomber carry his coffin

Thousands of people gathered for the funerals of three Indonesians executed on Sunday for the 2002 Bali bombings, sparking clashes between police and emotional supporters.

The three men from the group Jemaah Islamiah, Imam Samudra, 38, and brothers Mukhlas, 48, and Amrozi, 46, were executed by firing squad in central Java shortly after midnight, claiming to want to die as "martyrs" and having shown no remorse for the attacks.

 Of course they are martyrs. They fought hard in the name of Islam but they died. But dying doesn't mean they lost -- they still won. 
Supporter

The bodies were delivered to the village mosque for prayers, before being carried through a crowd of onlookers—shadowed by armed police and many reporters—to an Islamic boarding school.

"Of course they are martyrs. They fought hard in the name of Islam but they died. But dying doesn't mean they lost -- they still won," said one supporter, refusing to give his name.

"This is God's grace. The mujahedeen (holy warriors) will fight on!" shouted someone in the crowd, crying and holding his hands to the sky in religious awe.

Among those in the streets were followers of controversial cleric Abu Bakar Bashir, who was accused of co-founding regional militant group Jemaah Islamiah and jailed for conspiracy over the Bali bombings, but later cleared of wrongdoing.

The bombers said they launched the attacks against packed nightclubs on the resort island of Bali -- killing 202 people, mostly foreign tourists -- to defend Islam and avenge U.S. military action in Afghanistan and Iraq and to create an Islamic caliphate spanning Southeast Asia.

'Not martyrs'

 Someone who killed others will not die as martyrs unless they waged a war in the name of religion. They were not fighting for religion. 
Umar Shihab

Most Indonesians practice a moderate form of Islam, and the head of the country's leading Islamic body, the Indonesian Council of Ulamas, said Sunday the bombers could not be considered "martyrs."

"Someone who killed others will not die as martyrs unless they waged a war in the name of religion. They were not fighting for religion," Umar Shihab was quoted as saying by the Detikcom news website.

Even as the bombers' radical supporters protested, others quietly agreed their "jihad" was wrong.

"If there's a war fighting jihad is good for the religion but don't do it here in Indonesia. Bali isn't a battlefield," said Robi, 30, a neighbor of Samudra.

Australian reaction

Australia immediately issued a travel warning for citizens going to Indonesia and Foreign Minister Stephen Smith warned of possible reprisals. "It is not a day that fills us with any joy or any celebration," Smith said on Australian television.

"We continue to have credible information that terrorists may be planning attacks in Indonesia," he added.

Although new attacks targeting bars and tourist hangouts were possible, Jemaah Islamiah's network was fractured and sympathy for the bombers was low, said a leading Australian analyst.

"There will be some people in Indonesian society who regard them as martyrs, but they will be a very small proportion," said Damien Kingsbury, an associate professor at Deakin University.

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