Recommend UsEmail this PageeGazetteAlislam.org
July 31, 2010
Police form a line between Ahmadiyah protestors who want their mosque reopened and mainstream Muslims who want to make sure it stays closed. (AFP Photo/Yonda)
Indonesian President: Hit Back at West Java ‘Anarchy’
Jakarta. Amid rising tensions in Kuningan, West Java, following the closure of Ahmadiyah mosques there by security officials, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono on Friday called for firm police action.
Djoko Suyanto, coordinating minister for political, legal and security affairs, said the president had instructed him to order the police to take resolute action against the unrest.
“In my opinion, anarchy — no matter by whom or where — should be handled firmly,” the minister quoted Yudhoyono as saying.
The Kuningan Police have already been told of their duties, Djoko said, adding that he had confidence they would be able to contain the situation.
Police officers, acting on orders from the Kuningan district head, on Thursday sealed off Ahmadiyah mosques in Manis Lor village after having failed to do so on Monday due to resistance from the group’s members.
But as the protesters blocked police attempts to shut down their mosques, groups of hard-line Muslims flocked to the village and scuffles have broken out. Police have since been busy preventing an escalation in violence.
Amid pressure from Muslim groups, the government in 2008 prohibited members of Ahmadiyah from practicing their faith in public or proselytizing, but stopped short of banning the sect that many mainstream Muslims consider deviant.
Unlike other Muslims, members of Ahmadiyah recognize the sect’s founder, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, as a prophet.
While ordering the police to be firm, Djoko recognized they also faced difficulties in containing the situation. “If there are only five officers up against 500 people, they cannot be firm,” he said. “So they have to adjust to the conditions in the field.”
Kuningan’s district head, Aang Hamid Suganda, who had ordered the mosques sealed, called on all parties to avoid violence.
“We must make all Kuningan people feel secure,” Aang said. “Violence is not the best way to solve problems, so let us discuss it and go through legal channels.
Dedeh, a resident of Manis Lor, said it had been four days since villagers had boarded up their windows to protect them from stones being thrown by protesters.
According to Dedeh, Thursday’s clashes were relatively minor compared to the violence that occurred last year and in 2007.
The Jakarta Legal Aid Foundation (LBH) on Friday urged the government to punish people who resorted to violence or infringed on freedom of worship.
“It is not only about the right to have a religion or faith, but also about the right to feel secure, to be protected, to be free from discrimination, and the right to be protected as a minority,” said Nurkholis Hidayat, LBH’s director.
He said both the central government and regional administrations should be responsible for protecting and promoting human rights, as well as all religions and faiths, including Ahmadiyah.
The Setara Institute for Peace and Democracy also said on Friday that the state should safeguard freedom of religion.
“The president should be embarrassed if there are citizens who are unable to worship because of pressure from unruly masses.”
Additional reporting by Antara