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Ahmadis told to remain in refuge center
Panca Nugraha, The Jakarta Post, Mataram
West Nusa Tenggara Police said Tuesday hundreds of Ahmadiyah members should remain in their current refuge rather than return to their home villages, in a move hailed as the police’s failure to provide security.
But the police also promised to resolve the refugee issue. The Ahmadiyah members are currently staying at the Transmigration Transit Center in Mataram.
“We very much respect their basic rights, including demands to return them to their home villages. However, there is something more essential now with regard to their safety. They are currently safer in the refuge,” West Nusa Tenggara Police chief Brig. Gen. Surya Iskandar told The Jakarta Post in Mataram.
He said several Ahmadiyah representatives had met him to ask about plans for their future, having already lived in the shelter for the past three years.
“I also asked them whether they feel safe staying in the shelter, and they say yes,” Surya said.
Surya added the police would keep addressing the issue and stick to their policy of serving and protecting the public, including Ahmadiyah members.
On the legal status of the hundreds of Ahmadiyah members in the refuge, Surya said it was under the government’s authority.
“Our domain is security, because it’s our job basically. But bear in mind the issue is not only the responsibility of the provincial administration, but also the government in general,” he said.
He stressed the police would support and enforce the provincial administration’s policy on the Ahmadiyah refugee issue should the government decide to return them to their homes and should the wider community accept them.
“The decision is unclear – it could be this year, or three years from now. But according to us, the Ahmadiyah members are safer in the shelter for the time being,” Surya said.
Some 33 families, comprising 137 Ahmadis, have lived in the transit center since being forced from their homes in Ketapang hamlet, Gegerung village in Lingsar district, West Lombok regency, in February 2006.
In Central Lombok regency, 57 Ahmadis from 15 families are still taking refuge at the former Praya Hospital after being evicted from their homes in Praya subdistrict, Praya district, in June 2006.
Ahmadiyah is considered heretical by many mainstream Muslims for its recognition of founder Mirza Ghulam Ahmad as a prophet, despite Islamic tenets insisting Muhammad was the final prophet and no prophet could come after him.
The group eventually split into two schools of thought, with one still recognizing Ahmad as a prophet and messiah, and the other considering Ahmad simply a reformer, not a prophet.