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Anti-Ahmadiyah campaign escalating
The Jakarta Post, Jakarta
Radical Muslims have intensified their campaign for the government to ban Ahmadiyah and for followers of the sect to return to the fold of mainstream Islam.
Police in Ahmadiyah enclaves across the archipelago have beefed up security in anticipation of attacks on Ahmadis and their property.
Opponents of Ahmadiyah, which started in Indonesia in 1925 and has no record of violence, have apparently exploited a recent government decree which requires Ahmadis to cease religious activities in public.
Radical Muslims who consider Ahmadiyah “heretical” have threatened to take the law into their hands unless the government formally bans the sect whose following in Indonesia is estimated to number more than 200,000.
In Tangerang, just west of Jakarta, hundreds of people of all ages picketed Ahmadiyah’s An Nur Mosque in Babakan subdistrict, demanding its closure. They said the mosque had been used since it was founded in 1960 to spread heretical teachings of Islam.
Nurhasan Idris, a local neighborhood chief, said the Ahmadiyah activities did not cause any trouble but added that residents were afraid their property would be attacked by mobs from outside the hamlet, as has already happened in other places.
“That’s why residents demanded the Ahmadis carry out their religious activities elsewhere,” Idris told The Jakarta Post.
Attacks by outsiders on Ahmadiyah property have reportedly occurred in Sukabumi, West Java. Last month, an Ahmadiyah mosque in Parakansalak hamlet was destroyed.
Tension in Sukabumi rose after mobs forcibly closed down four Ahmadiyah mosques in the neighboring Cianjur.
“We have increased the number of personnel in highly vulnerable areas such as Parakansalak and Warung Kiara,” Sukabumi Police chief Snr. Comr. Guntor Gaffar told Antara news agency Friday.
Parakansalak, known as a local Ahmadiyah enclave, has been guarded by between 20 and 30 police officers around the clock, Guntor said.
In South Sulawesi, members of the fundamentalist Islam Defenders Front (FPI), which has gained infamy for its violent acts, shut down the local Ahmadiyah headquarters in the capital Makassar on Friday.
There they broke up a police cordon, entered the complex and put up a “Closed down by the South Sulawesi FPI” sign in the office before they peacefully dispersed.
The campaign against Ahmadiyah also found its way to the North Sumatra capital of Medan on Friday. Local radical Muslim leaders led a mass gathering at Al-Mashun Grand Mosque, where they repeated their demand that the government ban Ahmadiyah once and for all.
In his fiery speech, cleric Syarifin Maloko also demanded that police in Jakarta unconditionally release FPI leader Rizieq Shihab.
Rizieq was arrested in Jakarta for his alleged role in the FPI attack on participants of a pro-tolerance rally at the National Monument (Monas) in Jakarta on June 1, in which dozens of people were injured, some seriously.
The Medan rally also demanded that police arrest leaders of the National Alliance for the Freedom of Religion and Faith who led the Monas gathering and, according to the FPI, incited the violence.
— Multa Fidrus contributed to this story from Tangerang.