A hardline Indonesian Islamist group crashed a child’s birthday party as it rampaged through a community on the hunt for clandestine brothels, police said Monday. The drama unfolded on Friday when dozens of members of the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) stormed into a house they believed was being used for prostitution on the island of Madura in East Java province.
The group yanked two suspected sex workers from the home and attacked its owner until she fainted, police said. The angry mob then proceeded to storm into other nearby homes, including one hosting a kid’s birthday party. “They attacked the house in a frenzy and also assaulted local residents,” police spokesman Frans Barung Mangera.
“They were basically playing police” by trying to fight crime, he added. He would not confirm a report that the radicals grabbed some of the women who had brought their children to the party. The door-to-door raid angered some residents who retaliated by destroying the radicals’ cars and motorbikes.
At least five residents were injured in the melee, including a man whose face was doused with chili-infused water. The group told local media that some of its members were seriously injured in the clash. Police said an unspecified number of people were detained and that the case is under investigation.
The FPI is notorious for conducting “morality” sweeps in communities across the world’s biggest Muslim-majority nation. It played a key role in organizing large street protests aimed at bringing down Jakarta’s first Christian governor, who lost his re-election bid in 2017 and was later jailed on blasphemy charges over comments he made during the campaign.