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Worst to come for Ahmadiyah as more turn a blind eye
The Jakarta Post, Mataram
A single day erased a year’s worth of effort by the Jamaah Ahmadiyah congregation members to renovate their dilapidated, old mosque which has stood since 1977 in Cisalada village in Ciampea district, Bogor regency.
On July 12, the district chief of Ciampea, Budi Lukmanul Hakim, accompanied by 24 public order officers and 300 police officers, destroyed the steel foundations for what was to be an extension of the mosque.
The action caused Rp 250 million in losses for the congregation.
“It took us one year, starting from Lebaran, to collect donations from the congregation to achieve that sum of money,” said Ahmad Hidayat, an Ahmadi cleric.
The congregation has not received any settlement for the losses caused by the local administration’s action nor has it received a response to their settlement request, he added.
“We pleaded with the District Leadership Assembly [Muspika], especially the district chief to cancel the plan [to destroy the mosque],” he said. “But the plan went ahead due to many reasons and [social] pressure.”
The foundations were destroyed on orders expressed in a letter issued by the district chief after the administration was pressured by hard-line mass organizations in three surrounding villages, according to the Institute for Democracy and Peace (Setara).
“Since the district chief was not brave enough to defy the masses’ requests, they asked us to stop constructing the mosque so that we would not incur greater losses,” Ahmad said, adding that religious oppression was common in society.
“A junior high school student was beaten and stoned by children from a neighboring village for being part of Ahmadiyah, which they consider deviant,” he added.
There are currently 650 Ahmadiyah members and one Ahmadiyah mosque in Bogor, according to Budi.
Setara vice-chairman Bonar T. Naipospos said the destruction of the mosque was the result of the-discrimination Ahmadiyah congregations faced, which had worsened with the politicizing of the Ahmadiyah issue.
The regional secretary of Garut district, West Java, saw his performance decrease after his opponents accused him of being an Ahmadiyah member.
“Accusations of being an Ahmadiyah congregation member have become a stigma for many officials,” said Cecep A. Sentosa, head of Garut’s Ahmadiyah congregation.
He said that on June 13, the Anti-Ahmadiyah Movement organized a demonstration against Ahmadiyah in which the members went in convoy to several administration offices to seek out civil servants who were Ahmadiyah members.
“The demonstrators also demanded the local court and police disband Ahmadiyah and seal our mosques,” he said, adding that the mosques had not been sealed thanks to good coordination between the congregation and local administration officials.
He added that the administration generally took a neutral stance on the issue with the exception of a few officials who demanded Ahmadiyah stop their activities citing pressure from various organizations.
There are currently 1,500 Ahmadiyah members and five active mosques in Garut, Cecep said.
Setara reported that on Aug. 7, a meeting led by the Bayongbong sectorial chief Sutia and attended by the Bayongbong District Leadership Assembly as well as the head of Cigeduk Indonesian Ulema Council “asked” 15 Ahmadiyah members to “repent” by leaving Ahmadiyah.
Ahmadiyah members in Tasikmalaya district and Kuningan district face religious persecution as well. On July 29, hundreds of Islamic extremists attacked an Ahmadiyah mosque in Manis Lor village in Kuningan, West Java.
Bonar of Setara, said Ahmadiyah’s plight was rooted in a joint ministerial decree issued in 2008 that banned congregation members from proselytizing.
“This itself is a violation of the congregation’s religion and human rights from a democratic perspective since the government has no authority to state whether a belief is considered right,” he said, adding that the government, especially local administrations, had chosen not to oppose the oppressive organizations because they provided support when needed. (gzl)