Sampang still not safe for Shia Muslims in Indonasia, despite recent reconciliation attempts

Sampang still not safe for Shia Muslims in Indonasia, despite recent reconciliation attempts

Some 200 members of the regency's Shia minority have yet to return home despite a recent accord with majority Sunnis, and a December visit by Indonesia's president.

(Ahlul Bayt News Agency) - Shia Muslims who fled their Sampang Regency villages amid sectarian strife with the Sunni majority are still waiting to go home, despite a three-month-old peace deal with the Sunnis and last month's visit to the area by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.

There has been no follow-up in efforts to return more than 200 Shia Muslims to Sampang from Sidoarjo, East Java, where they have stayed since being forced to leave Madura, advocates for the group say. 

"We are still afraid, unless we get a green light from the government [guaranteeing] our security when we return," Sampang Shia leader Iklil Al Milal told Khabar Southeast Asia. 

Shia Muslims are willing to make peace with Sampang Sunnis, but do not want their homeward return to be conditionally tied to forced conversions to Sunni Islam, he said. 

"Is reconciliation still possible without pressuring us to convert our beliefs?" he added. 

Thirty-four out of the regency's 235 displaced Shia Muslims did go home, but only after agreeing to sign a nine-point pledge to convert to Sunnism, Hertasning Ichlas, executive director of the Universalia Legal Aid Institute and an attorney representing the 235, told the Jakarta Post in an article published December 30th. 

Religious Affairs Minister Suryadharma Ali denied the government was trying to force the Sampang Shia Muslims to join the Muslim majority, according to the Post. 


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