When disaster hits, Indonesia's Islamists are first to help - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

When disaster hits, Indonesia's Islamists are first to help

Posted: Updated:
(AP Photo/Achmad Ibrahim, File). FILE - In this May 3, 2013, file photo, members of the militant Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) shout slogan during a demonstration in Jakarta, Indonesia. The Islamic Defenders Front, better known for vigilante actions ag... (AP Photo/Achmad Ibrahim, File). FILE - In this May 3, 2013, file photo, members of the militant Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) shout slogan during a demonstration in Jakarta, Indonesia. The Islamic Defenders Front, better known for vigilante actions ag...
(AP Photo/Tatan Syuflana, File). FILE - In this Nov. 22, 2013, file photo, Indonesian police officers block members of the militant Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) during a demonstration outside Australian Embassy in Jakarta. The Islamic Defenders Front,... (AP Photo/Tatan Syuflana, File). FILE - In this Nov. 22, 2013, file photo, Indonesian police officers block members of the militant Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) during a demonstration outside Australian Embassy in Jakarta. The Islamic Defenders Front,...
(AP Photo/Binsar Bakkara, File). FILE - In this Nov. 23, 2012, file photo, a Muslim protester of Islam Defenders Front (FPI) wears a mock-suicide bomb during a demonstration against Israel's recent offensive against Palestinians in Gaza, outside the bu... (AP Photo/Binsar Bakkara, File). FILE - In this Nov. 23, 2012, file photo, a Muslim protester of Islam Defenders Front (FPI) wears a mock-suicide bomb during a demonstration against Israel's recent offensive against Palestinians in Gaza, outside the bu...
(AP Photo/Irwin Fedriansyah, File). FILE - In this May 4, 2011, file photo, a member of radical group Islam Defenders Front walks past posters of Osama Bin laden and U.S. President Barack Obama, during prayers for the al-Qaida leader at their headquart... (AP Photo/Irwin Fedriansyah, File). FILE - In this May 4, 2011, file photo, a member of radical group Islam Defenders Front walks past posters of Osama Bin laden and U.S. President Barack Obama, during prayers for the al-Qaida leader at their headquart...
(AP Photo/Dita Alangkara). In this Oct. 2, 2018 photo, volunteers of the humanitarian wing of the Islamic Defenders Front examine the damage caused by the earthquake and liquefaction at Balaroa neighborhood in Palu, Central Sulawesi, Indonesia Indonesi... (AP Photo/Dita Alangkara). In this Oct. 2, 2018 photo, volunteers of the humanitarian wing of the Islamic Defenders Front examine the damage caused by the earthquake and liquefaction at Balaroa neighborhood in Palu, Central Sulawesi, Indonesia Indonesi...

PALU, Indonesia (AP) - Indonesia's Islamic Defenders Front is perhaps best known for its vigilante actions against gays, Christmas decorations and prostitution.

But over the past 15 years it has repurposed its militia into a force that's as adept at searching for victims buried under earthquake rubble and distributing aid as it is at inspiring fear.

In the process it has become an influential player in the world's most populous Muslim-majority nation and an accelerant in the country's decades-old cultural war.

Last year saw an earthquake and tsunami hit Palu, earthquakes ravage Lombok and a tsunami wreak havoc on the Sunda Strait coastline. The front was there at each disaster, searching for victims, distributing aid and building temporary housing.

Such activities amplify the hard-line message that religion, not government is the answer.

Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Powered by Frankly

All content © Copyright 2000 - 2019 WBOC. All Rights Reserved. For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy, and Terms of Service, and Ad Choices