Recommend UsEmail this PageeGazetteAlislam.org
Govt deplored for failing to stop attacks on Ahmadiyah
Erwida Maulia, Irawaty Wardany and Theresia Sufa, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta/Bogor
Embattled sect: A National Police Mobile Brigade officer guards a mosque belonging to a congregation of the Ahmadiyah sect in Ciampea, Bogor, on Saturday. Locals attacked members of the congregation Friday night. JP/Theresia Sufa
Critics renewed calls of outrage at the government’s failure to protect minority groups on Saturday after an attack on a mosque and several houses belonging to followers of the Ahmadiyah Islamic sect in Bogor, West Java.
Moderate Muslim Society chairman Zuhairi Misrawi said a recent string of violent attacks against Ahmadiyah had been prompted by Religious Affairs Minister Suryadharma Ali’s call last month to dismiss the sect on the grounds that it was heretical.
“We demand President Yudhoyono question the religious affairs minister for not protecting a religious minority group,” Zuhairi said at a press conference of the Indonesian Legal Aid Foundation on Saturday. He said the minister’s remarks could be used as justification for the attack.
Around 20 people attacked Cisalada village at around 7.15 p.m. on Friday, throwing stones at an Ahmadiyah mosque that is under construction there.
“Ahmadiyah followers successfully chased the troublemakers away, however they came back with a bigger group half an hour later and started vandalizing and setting fire to properties including the Ahmadiyah mosque, five houses, a car and two motorcycles,” said Jamaah Ahmadiyah Congregation’s national press secretary Zafrullah Ahmad Pontoh.
Zafrullah said the congregation had reported the incident to the local police, who showed up 90 minutes later.
One resident, Atun, said women and children had run into nearby rice fields to hide, and had stayed there for hours.
“I hid in the rice fields for around three hours because we were afraid of those people who threatened to kill us. We only left the fields after the police had arrived,” she said.
Separately, presidential spokesman Julian Aldrin Pasha said that Yudhoyono “deplored the attack and has ordered law enforcers to take action against the guilty parties”.
Quoting a police report, Julian said the attack had been triggered by a rumor that Ahmadiyah followers had stabbed to death two residents of Pasar Salasa village.
“[The rumor] is not true; as of [Saturday] morning no one has been confirmed dead or admitted to hospital. But the rumor was quick to spread and provoke people to launch the attack as they thought the incident was a religious-related issue,” Julian said.
West Java Police chief Insp. Gen. Sutarman said the police had questioned four witnesses over the incident.
Ahmadiyah national security commission head Deden Sujana said all of the witnesses questioned by the police were Ahmadiyah followers.
“We are the victims but it’s our members who are undergoing police questioning,” he said.
Indonesian Conference on Religious and Peace secretary-general Johannes Hariyanto said the government was guilty of systematic neglect in preventing attacks on Ahmadiyah.
“In most of the cases, it was the victims who were criminalized,” he said.
The Ahmadiyah congregation has lived in Cisalada since 1933. It now has about 700 followers. “Their existence started being threatened in 2007. [The Friday attack] is the third,” community unit head Edi Humaedi said.
In July, Ciampea district chief Budi Lukmanul Hakim, accompanied by 24 public order officers and 300 police officers, destroyed the steel foundations of what was to be an extension of the Ahmadiyah mosque. The action cost the congregation Rp 250 million (US$26,000) in losses.
A week later, 500 protesters from a hard-line Islamic group clashed with members of the congregation in Manis Lor, Kuningan, West Java.
Home Minister Gamawan Fauzi and Religious Affairs Minister Suryadarma Ali said after a meeting in Bogor on Saturday that they would hold a meeting to discuss a “permanent solution” to the Ahmadiyah problem. The talks will begin Monday.