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Ahmadiyah Brought Attack on Themselves: Officials
Jakarta Globe | February 10, 2011
Two top state officials have blamed Sunday’s deadly mob attack on an Ahmadiyah community on the sect itself, saying the government has tried to protect the group.
Three people from the community of 25 in Umbulan village in Pandeglang district were killed during the rampage by about 1,500 people.
On Wednesday, Religious Affairs Minister Suryadharma Ali told a House of Representatives hearing that a controversial joint ministerial decree issued in 2008 was not to blame for the attack, which was just the latest incident of violence targeting the minority Islamic sect.
The decree restricts the Ahmadiyah’s activities and bans Ahmadis from spreading their faith.
National Police Chief Gen. Timur Pradopo, speaking at the same hearing, suggested the Ahmadiyah members in Umbulan had only themselves to blame for Sunday’s fatalities.
Hard-line Islamists involved in attacks against Ahmadiyah communities, schools and mosques have consistently cited the decree — and an edict by the Indonesian Council of Ulema (MUI) branding the sect heretical — as justification for their actions.
Speaking before House Commission VIII, which oversees religious affairs, the minister said the decree was meant to protect the Ahmadiyah.
“The decree was not made to discriminate against certain groups, it was aimed at maintaining religious harmony, including protecting the Ahmadiyah,” he said.
He added that his ministry had been actively engaged in attempting to prevent sectarian clashes, including setting up interfaith forums (FKUBs) in all 33 provinces and 421 districts and cities across the country. He acknowledged, however, that not everyone involved in the interfaith forums was familiar with the contents of the decree.
Timur said local police had been notified a day before the rampage of a possible attack on Ismail Suparman, an Ahmadiyah elder in the village, and had taken him into protective custody.
The subsequent attack, Timur went on, occurred after Deden Sujana, another Ahmadiyah member, occupied Ismail’s house in a bid to defy the mob. “That’s why the mob got out of control and the fatalities occurred on the Ahmadiyah side,” the police chief said.
Deden was one of several Ahmadis critically injured.
Some Commission VIII lawmakers agreed that the Ahmadiyah were at fault.
Hasrul Azwar, from the Islam-based United Development Party (PPP), said the sect should be officially outlawed. “Clerics the world over have banned them, so why doesn’t our government do the same?” he asked. “As long as the government fails to get strict, the conflict will never end. Their fake prophet is a disgrace to my religion.”
Suryadharma said that while the government had not decided what to do with the Ahmadiyah, “the suggestion to disband them will be a very valuable input for us.”
Imran Muchtar, from the ruling Democratic Party, backed the call. “The first option is for the Ahmadiyah to repent, recognize their mistake and come back to mainstream Islam,” he said.
“The second is for them to leave Islam and declare a new religion.”
Jazuli Juwaini, from the Islamic-based Prosperous Justice Party (PKS), called on the police to investigate whether the mob had been organized.
Timur said that while it was obvious that “some people mobilized the masses, I’m not saying they’re the provocateurs.”
He added that the only person arrested so far was Ujang bin Sahari. Unconfirmed reports identify him as the Banten head of the hard-line Islamic Defenders Front (FPI).