Conflict & Justice

Islamic vigilantes defend Christmas


Islamic Defenders Front members shout slogans during a rally in Jakarta on March 1, 2011.


Bay Ismoyo

"Let the Christians believe that their religion is the absolute truth and let Muslims believe that Islam is the absolute truth."

So says the leader of the Islamic Defenders Front, according to the Jakarta Post. The group is offering to help protect the sanctity of upcoming Christmas celebrations in Muslim-majority Indonesia.

What is the Front? A vigilante network whose members have trashed nightclubs, chased down prostitutes and attacked Christian churchgoers. (Video of their attacks obtained by Global Post is here.)

The group is committed to vanquishing all that is not pious. Its leadership has offered similarly conciliatory messages in the past despite its tendency to drive out "bad influences," which range from boozers to rival Islamic sects to anyone eating while the sun is out during Ramadan.

Still, their leader, Habib Rizieq Shihab, warns that insulting other religions is "haram" or forbidden. Perhaps his warning will prevent his followers from trashing any Nativity scenes.