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Four arrested in attack on Ahmadiyah
The Jakarta Post, Jakarta, Malang, Semarang
The arrest of suspects in the attack on an Ahmadiyah community in Mataram figures as a rare display of law enforcement in cases of violations against religious minorities.
Mataram Police announced Monday the arrest of four people allegedly involved in Saturday’s attack on the members’ homes in Gegerung village, Lingsar district, in West Lombok regency, West Nusa Tenggara.
West Nusa Tenggara Police spokesman Adj. Sr. Comr. HM Basri said the police questioned seven people and named four of them suspects, Antara news service reported.
Ahmadiyah, whose members believe the last prophet was their founder, not the Prophet Muhammad, has been subject to several attacks in recent months. An attack against a congregation in Parung, West Java, last July, resulted in no arrests, although 12 people were detained for another attack in Cianjur, also West Java.
In other interfaith disputes, police in Bekasi and Bandung refused to intervene in scuffles last year when Muslim residents barred Christians from mass prayers, saying they were being held in illegal venues.
The Mataram arrests followed Saturday’s statement of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono that the state “guarantees the freedom of each citizen to hold and practice their own religion”, and that Indonesia does not adopt the concept of “unrecognized and recognized religions”.
The Indonesian Ulema Council first issued an edict in 1980 saying that Ahmadiyah was not Islamic, although the group, believed to number about 200,000 followers here, has been recognized in Indonesia since 1953.
“Anarchy is a form of crime … We will search the perpetrators, detain them and bring them to trial,” National Police spokesman Brig. Gen. Anton Bachrul Alam said.
West Nusa Tenggara Police spokesman Basri said the attack was sparked by locals’ increasing unease about the presence of Ahmadiyah members in the village, especially amid rumors they would build a boarding school. The group’s members fled before a mob stoned 14 homes and set them ablaze.
Four people, including three police officers, were injured, Antara reported.
The police evacuated 165 Ahmadiyah members to the local social services office in Transito, Mataram. However, they have not been allowed to meet journalists.
Both Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) and Muhammadiyah, the country’s two largest Muslim organizations claiming a total of 85 million members, condemned the attack Monday.
NU chairman Hasyim Muzadi told members: “Islam never teaches or instructs someone to perform violent acts against other people who have a different opinion, even if the person is a kafir (infidel).”
“Yes, Ahmadiyah deviates (from Islamic teaching), but solving the matter by using violence is not right. If the National Police could not (act against such attacks) or lack personnel, they can ask our help.”
Muhammadiyah chairman Din Syamsudin, who is also deputy chairman of the MUI, urged the police to thoroughly investigate the attack.
“I regret and condemn the destruction of Ahmadiyah members’ property,” he said at Sultan Agung Islamic University in Semarang.
The edicts on Ahmadiyah does not justify such attacks, he said. “In this case, I completely agree if the attackers are punished,” Din said.
Mataram Mayor M. Ruslan said Ahmadiyah members could stay in the city if they would not blend more instead of living in enclaves; and if they “would not encourage other people to convert,” Antara reported.