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Tan Malaka book discussion shut down after protests by Islamic vigilantes

Tempo - February 7, 2014

Edwin Fajerial, Surabaya Ė A book discussion on Tan Malaka that was due to be held at the C-20 Library on Number 20 Jl. Cipto in the East Java provincial capital of Surabaya was eventually canceled because it failed to obtain permission from local police.

Beyond the library fence some 20 members of an Islamic mass organisation calling themselves the United Islamic People's Movement (GUIB), who had arrived in four cars shortly after evening prayers, closed off all access in and out of the library.

GUIB leader Dhofir said that they arrived in order to confirm that the Tan Malaka discussion had been closed down. According Dhofir, the discussion would have caused unrest because it preached Marxism or communism, which is considered to be the teachings of one who fights against Islam (kafir harbi) and must be fought. "Stay away from people who follow it", said Dhofir on Friday February 7.

When asked about a similar event held at the Airlangga University that morning, Dhofir stated that it did not conflict with religion because it was a scholarly book dissertation on campus. "If it is related to science it's allowed, [but] if it's being disseminated it's not allowed", he said.

The Obor Book Foundation is holding a series of discussions on a new book titled Tan Malaka, Left Wing Movement, and the Indonesian Revolution Volume 4 by renowned Dutch historian Harry A. Poeze. A discussion on the book attended by Poeze was to be held at the C-20 Library on Friday. Similar events are being held in several different cities while in Surabaya, book dissertations were also held at the Surabaya State University and the Airlangga University.

Tegalsari sectoral police chief Commissioner Arief Mukti said that in principle police always give permission for such events providing that the do not disrupt public order and security. If they are deemed to be disruptive police will suggest the event be cancelled. "We are also the ones who can close it down if indeed it does goes ahead", said Mukti.

Outside the library meanwhile, a number of people intending to join the discussion were still arriving. Tempo estimated that there were around 30 people assembled not far from the GUIB blockade who said they did not know that the discussion had been cancelled.

One of the participants, Airlangga University post-graduate student Abdul Khodir, said that he regretted the closure of the book dissertation because discussions of the Tan Malaka book were essential in order to complement a historical insight into the nation. "I've very disappointed that it was cancelled", said Khodir.

The event organising committee, who could not be seen anywhere, did indeed take a decision to cancel the event earlier in the afternoon after they failed to receive permission for the event from police. The library was padlocked and the lights inside the building turned off. A piece of paper announcing the cancellation of the book dissertation was posted on the library gates.

[Slightly abridged translation by James Balowski for the Indoleft news service.]

Source: http://www.tempo.co/read/news/2014/02/07/078552156/Digeruduk-Ormas-Islam-Diskusi-Tan-Malaka-Bubar.

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