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Ahmadiyah mosques destroyed in attack
Yuli Tri Suwarni, The Jakarta Post, Bandung
Hundreds of people in West Java vandalized on Monday night houses, mosques and cars belonging to members of the Indonesian Ahmadiyah Congregation (JAI), a Muslim group whose teachings differ from the central tenets of Islam.
No casualties nor injuries were reported in the attack.
West Java Police said on Tuesday the vandalism had been localized to Campaka district in Cianjur regency, some 100 kilometers southeast of Jakarta, which is home to hundreds of Ahmadiyah followers.
The attackers, mostly from the neighborhood and the nearby Darul Rahman Islamic boarding school, destroyed or damaged four mosques, 33 houses and four Islamic schools, and set fire to three cars.
The mob of Muslims dispersed after the 90 minute attack at around 9 p.m.
West Java Police chief Insp. Gen. Edi Darnadi said the Cianjur Police had arrested 48 people in relation to the attack.
Five of them, he said, had been declared suspects. They have been identified as Deni Hidayat, 35, Yopi Suhendar, 32, M. Yohadi, 35, Dani Hamdani, 27 and Nurdin, 22.
Darul Rahman boarding school head Muhammad Hardian Nawawi, who is believed to have led the attack, is being questioned by the Cianjur Police.
The attack was the latest against Ahmadiyah, which has been branded a heretical group by the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) through its fatwa issued recently.
In 1984, the Ministry of Religious Affairs issued a circular to provincial offices across the country, declaring that Ahmadiyah was misleading and against Islam.
The group believes that another prophet, its founder Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, came after Muhammad, the last prophet of God in Islam.
In July, thousands of people attacked the Ahmadiyah compound in Parung, Bogor, West Java, in a protest against the group’s teachings.
The attack was condemned by Muslim organizations and leaders, who said that faith differences must not be resolved with violence.
However, nobody was arrested for the Parung violence.
Ahmadiyah has existed as an organization since 1953 and now has about 200,000 members.
The West Java Police chief said the Cianjur authorities had been slow to settle the conflict between Ahmadiyah and local residents, which he said had caused accumulated rage and destruction.
West Java Police chief of detectives Sr. Comr. Ahmad Abdi said the Cianjur administration had met on Sept. 5 with local residents and Ahmadiyah leaders.
During the talks, the Ahmadis had been told to halt their activities but had ignored the demand.
“Despite the MUI’s fatwa against Ahmadiyah, the attack was a punishable crime — and punishment was needed to avoid similar attacks in the future,” Abdi said.
Meanwhile, West Java Governor Danny Setiawan appealed for tolerance and restraint for the course of the police’s investigation.
As of Tuesday evening, Ahmadiyah’s West Java leader, Abdul Wahab, could not be reached for comment.