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Ahmadiyah followers under more pressure to alter beliefs
Yuli Tri Suwarni, The Jakarta Post, Bandung
While trauma caused by a recent attack on Ahmadiyah property in Cianjur regency, West Java, has not yet healed, Ahmadiyah members faced pressure from another organization on Thursday.
A conservative group, the Discussion Forum for the Implementation of Sharia has demanded that the Depok municipal government ban activities held by the Ahmadiyah congregation in order to maintain social harmony. The group says Ahmadiyah’s teachings are heretical, controversial and sacrilegious and therefore have to be banned. Ahmadiyah followers are said to believe that the last prophet was not Muhammad but Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, who founded the sect in the 19th century in Pakistan.
In order for their demand to be heard, the discussion forum will hold a protest on Saturday morning in front of an Ahmadiyah mosque in Sawangan area, Depok, said Ahmad Syaifuddin, the group’s chairman, as quoted by Antara news agency. At least 150 people will participate in the protest, said Syaifuddin.
In a separate development, as the police named 12 suspects responsible for the attack on Ahmadiyah properties in Cianjur, West Java, a conservative Muslim group claimed on Thursday that it would compensate Ahmadiyah for all damages incurred during the attack on Monday night.
At least four mosques, 33 houses, four elementary school buildings and four cars were damaged after a mob went on a rampage in an Ahmadiyah neighborhood in Cianjur regency, West Java. “The material losses will be compensated,” said Cecep Hermawan, the chairman of the Cianjur-based Islam Reformist Movement. Although the group said it would provide compensation for the material losses, it denied responsibility for the attack.
“We will compensate Ahmadiyah for the losses as we support the movement to ban the group. But, we were not directly involved in the attack.” Cecep said that his organization would also provide lawyers for the 12 people named as suspects in the attack.
The attackers were mostly local residents in Cianjur and students from Muslim boarding schools near the Ahmadiyah neighborhood.
Meanwhile, an Ahmadiyah leader demanded that the perpetrators behind the attack be punished. Hakim Nurdin, an executive with Bandung Ahmadiyah Youth, said that stern punishment was necessary to deter other groups from committing similar attacks in the future. The police arrested 48 people after the attack, but later only named 12 suspects for damaging property belonging to Ahmadiyah members.
A similar concern was also voiced by Dindin Abdullah Ghazali, the spokesman of the Alliance for Harmony Between Different Faiths. Dindin strongly condemned the attack, saying it had violated human rights and religious freedom. He also demanded the government compensate Ahmadiyah members. The attack has attracted attention from the National Commission on Human Rights (KOMNAS HAM), with several members of KOMNAS HAM reportedly visiting the site on Thursday afternoon to investigate.