Differing Views on Policing During Ramadan Surface, With Hard-Liners Poised to Play a Role
Surabaya. The National and Jakarta Police have made contradicting statements regarding hard-line Islamist groups making punitive “sweeps” of business open during Ramadan.
National Police Chief Gen. Timur Pradopo said on Monday that the police would “involve the public” in solving problems during to the Islamic holy month, such as business serving food before sunset.
Conversely, Jakarta Police Chief Insp. Gen. Untung S. Rajab said his force would not tolerate sweeps during Ramadan by radical groups.
The contradictions highlight concern the power hard-line groups wield, and the police’s reluctance to intervene.
Human rights activist have recently questioned the National Police’s ability and willingness to stop hard-line groups from their routine of raiding nightclubs and restaurants during Ramadan.
Bonar Tigor Naipospos, the deputy chairman of the Setara Institute for Peace and Democracy, said that under the previous National Police Chief, Bambang Hendarso Danuri, police often stopped raids by radical groups during Ramadan.
But police have been much more permissive under Bambang’s successor, Timur, according to the Setara Institute.
Regarding restaurants and nightclubs that are open during Ramadan, Timur said his force prefers “the public help to solve the problem.”
“The main point is, it isn’t necessarily the police who [act]. We will prioritize public [participation]. If it is Ramadan, Ulema should act,” Timur said on Monday, referring to Islamic scholars.
“The National Police will only take an action if there is a legal violation,” he added, saying that he would sanction any policemen who supported nightclubs or restaurants that remained open during Ramadan.
But there is an apparent conflict within the ranks of the National Police.
Contrasting Timur’s statement, National Police Spokesman Boy Rafli Amar said that people should not take matters into their own hands, but should report violations of the law to the police.
“Sweeping is not right according to the law,” Boy said. “If [radical groups] still do it, there will be strict action. We don’t mind public participation, but they should coordinate with us.”
And showing further division still, Jakarta Police Chief Insp. Gen. Untung S. Rajab said he would not tolerate any sweeps in Jakarta during Ramadan, including from radical Islamic groups.
“There are police here, so do they have to conduct sweeps? I guarantee that there will be no sweeping,” he said recently.
The National Police’s authority supersedes
the Jakarta Police, though no intention to do so has been announced.