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‘Politically Motivated’ Anti-Ahmadiyah Sentiment Growing in West Java
Ulma Haryanto & Nurfika Osman | August 10, 2010
Garut, West Java. Iin, a resident of Cikedu village in Garut, West Java, said on Monday that she vividly recalled the third and last time she was harassed by officers from the local Indonesian Council of Ulema (MUI).
Iin told the Jakarta Globe on Saturday that she was forced by MUI officers, who were also accompanied by local residents, to sign a statement and recite the Syahadat, the Muslim declaration of belief in one God and in the Prophet Muhammad, or “face the consequences.”
That would have been fine for Iin had the 51-year-old not been a member of the Ahmadiyah Muslim community, which has been the target of a recent wave of attacks and discrimination in predominantly Sunni Indonesia.
“I was confused. If I agreed to sign, then I would be defying my own faith. If I refused, then I would be a constant target of the people’s wrath,” Iin said.
The Ahmadiyahs in her village reported the case to local police. But that did little good.
“They told me that my village was just too far away. But it’s just a kilometer away from the administration ward.”
Cecep Ahmad Santoso, chief of the Ahmadiyah congregation in Garut, said that this type of persecution was all to common an occurrence in the area.
A 2008 joint decree issued by the Religious Affairs Ministry, the Home Affairs Ministry and the Attorney General’s Office is often used as the very basis for the persecution, Cecep said.
The decree states that Ahmadiyah followers should desist from conducting acts that “violate Islamic principles.”
This follows an effort by local government administrations and the MUI to have the Ahmadiyah sect officially banned.
But the statements made by Iin and Cecep, coming just days following an attack on Ahmadiyah sect members in Kuningan, West Java, show that the rhetoric and finger-pointing is becoming increasingly heated.
Ichwan Sam, the secretary general of the MUI, said that when it came to the Ahmadiyah, the stance of the MUI was clear.
“Ahmadiyah is not Islam. The Ahmadiyah are haram [forbidden] as they deviate from the original Islamic values and teachings. They have their own Koran, which is not acceptable, and they also think that Prophet Muhammad is not the last messenger,” Ichwan said.
A report released on Monday by the Setara Institute for Peace and Democracy highlighted a worrying and rising trend of persecution and discrimination against Ahmadiyah followers, particularly in the West Java districts of Tasikmalaya, Bogor, Garut and Kuningan.
“We concluded that all incidents had telling political motives. During elections, candidates for district head announces publicly that they would disband the Ahmadiyah if they were elected,” said Institute researcher Ismail Hasani, who has been monitoring Ahmadiyah affairs for the institute since 2007.
“This year alone, 19 acts [of persecution] have occurred against the Ahmadiyah sect. Last year there were 33,” Ismail said.