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Indonesian cleric’s naked fury

Hardline Indonesian cleric Abu Bakar Bashir has likened tourists to "worms, snakes, maggots" and called for signs to be placed in Muslim areas warning them to dress modestly, a report said Monday.

world Updated: Mar 25, 2008 00:19 IST

Hardline Indonesian cleric Abu Bakar Bashir has likened tourists to "worms, snakes, maggots" and called for signs to be placed in Muslim areas warning them to dress modestly, a report said Monday.

The preacher made the comments in a speech to an Islamic youth organisation in east Java in October, The Australian said.

"Worms, snakes, maggots -- those are animals that crawl. Take a look at (the resort island of) Bali... those infidel tourists. They are naked," he said.

The sermon by Bashir, who served almost 26 months for conspiracy over the deadly Bali bombings of 2002 before being cleared and released, was videotaped by an Australian university student who was conducting research in the area.

In the address, Bashir also said that signs should be placed in Muslim areas to tell western tourists to dress modestly.

And he encouraged young people to "beat up" infidels, but it was not clear whether he was referring to tourists in east Java or simply to any listening to his sermon at the time.

"God willing, there are none here," Bashir told the group.

"If there were infidels here, just beat them up. Do not tolerate them."

Australian Foreign Minister Stephen Smith said Bashir's comments were "consistent with his well-known views and nothing more than his familiar bigotry."

"I condemn these views absolutely," Smith said in a statement, adding that Indonesian authorities would pay close attention to the cleric's words, particularly if there was a suggestion of a threat towards foreigners.

Eighty-eight Australians were killed in the 2002 Bali bombings which left 202 people dead, most of them foreign tourists.

In the sermon, Bashir also recommended "martyrdom" and told young Muslims not to be afraid to be called hardliners.

"The youth movement here must aspire to a martyrdom death," he said.

"The young must be first at the frontline -- don't hide at the back. You must be at the front, die as martyrs and all your sins will be forgiven."

"Don't be scared if you are called a hardliner Muslim," he added. "It must be like that. We can't follow human law that is in conflict with Allah's law."

Bashir last year visited the three key Bali bombers awaiting execution, reportedly describing the men as "not terrorists but counter-terrorists," and "mujaheds", or holy warriors.

More than 90 per cent of Indonesia's 232 million people are Muslims, but most follow a more moderate version of Islam.