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Indonesia arrests 12 for attack on Muslim sect
Wed 21 Sep 2005 3:12 AM ET
JAKARTA, Sept 21 (Reuters) - Indonesian police have arrested a dozen people after mosques were damaged and homes belonging to members of a breakaway Muslim sect burned down, a senior officer said on Wednesday.
Hundreds of angry Muslims in West Java torched more than 30 houses on Monday and vandalised four mosques used by the Indonesian Ahmadiyah Congregation, whose teachings differ from the central tenets of mainstream Islam.
“We have questioned 48 people, and 12 of them have now been declared suspects. They are held in prison,” said National police spokesman Ariyanto Budihardjo.
He said police in Cianjur regency, about 100 kilometers (60 miles) southeast of the capital Jakarta, had tightened security to prevent further violence against the group.
Local media have reported the attackers mostly came from the neighbourhood and a nearby Islamic boarding school.
The attack was just the latest against Ahmadiyah, which has been branded a heretical group by the Indonesian Ulema Council, the secular country’s highest Muslim authority that recently issued a fatwa, or edict, against it.
The group believes that another prophet, its founder Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, came after Muhammad, the last prophet of God in Islam.
In July this year, thousands of people attacked another Ahmadiyah compound in West Java.
Ahmadiyah has existed as an organisation since 1953 and now has about 200,000 members, according to the English-language Jakarta Post newspaper.
Indonesia is the world’s most populous Muslim nation, with some 85 percent of its 220 million people following Islam. Most of the rest are Christian or Hindu.
Despite Indonesia’s moderate Muslim image, some observers say there is a disturbing backlash against liberal opinion and a push by conservatives to reassert themselves.
Islamic radicals have closed down some 25 unlicensed churches operating in homes and shopping malls in the past two years, and this month three Christian women were jailed for inviting Muslim children to church events.