Via Jakarta Globe:
The government says it is nearing a solution to repatriate Shiite Muslim families driven from their homes by Sunni hard-liners in Sampang district on Madura Island, following a meeting late on Thursday between the president and local clerics.
Suryadharma Ali, the minister for religious affairs, said on Friday that the meeting in Surabaya, hosted by the East Java governor, was positive and that a reconciliation between the two groups was in sight.
However, he stressed that any meaningful peace would only be obtained with the “enlightenment” of the around 200 Shiites currently living in tenement blocks in Sidoarjo, on the East Java mainland — a term largely understood to mean conversion to mainstream Sunni Islam, but which Suryadharma and other government officials have doggedly refused to clarify.
“In the meeting it was agreed that the reconciliation would be based on the enlightenment of the refugees, so that there’s a confluence of perception with regard to their religion,” the minister said.
“This enlightenment process will be carried out where they are currently staying in Sidoarjo.”
He declined to confirm whether this meant they would have to publicly renounce their faith, and refused to give any details about what the enlightenment process would entail, saying only that it was the main condition laid down by the Sunni clerics for allowing the Shiite families to return home.
The Shiite community was the target of an attack by a Sunni mob in August last year that stemmed from a family dispute between its leader, Tajul Muluk, and his brother, local Sunni cleric Rois Al Hukuma.