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FPI Not to Blame for Bloodshed In Banten: Lawyer
Farouk Arnaz, Fitri & Antara | February 17, 2011
A police officer stand guards at the damaged house of a member of Ahmadiyah after it was mob-attacked in Pandeglang, Banten province, Indonesia, Monday, Feb. 7, 2011. (AP Photo)
The lawyer for two alleged assailants in a bloody attack against the Ahmadiyah in Banten that claimed three lives said on Wednesday that the crime should not be pinned on the Islamic Defenders Front.
Mahendratta, from the Muslim Lawyers Team (TPM), said the violence in Pandeglang district on Feb. 6, was backed by a group of clerics in no way affiliated with the hard-line group, also known as the FPI.
“All the suspects [in the attack] were under a group calling itself the Cikeusik Muslim Movement,” he said.
Lawyers from TPM, formed in 1999 to help Muslims with legal issues, have represented FPI members in previous cases.
Mahendratta’s clients — identified as cleric M. and his follower S. — were part of the Cikeusik movement and had turned themselves in to Banten Police earlier on Wednesday.
Sr. Comr. Boy Rafli Amar, spokesman for the National Police, said the surrender brought the number of detained suspects in the case to six.
Other suspects in custody were identified as Ujang, E., K., and M.N. — all clerics from in and around Cikeusik subdistrict.
They were charged with criminal incitement for allegedly leading a 1,500-strong mob in Umbulan village against the Ahmadiyah, a sect deemed deviant by many Muslims for its divergent view on Islamic prophets.
In the wake of religious attacks, Home Affairs Minister Gamawan Fauzi held a dialogue on Wednesday with groups considered hostile to the Ahmadiyah, including the FPI.
Gamawan said the ministry proposed four options at the meeting to resolve the rift between hard-liners and Ahmadis.
The first option requires the Ahmadiyah to disassociate itself from Islam, while the second calls for the sect to abandon any practices deviating from mainstream Islamic teachings.
The third option allows Ahmadis to continue practicing their faith as usual, while the last is disbanding the sect.
“We understand that no matter what option we choose, not everyone will be happy about it,” Gamawan said. “So that’s why we’re holding a series of dialogues to discuss the options.”
After the meeting, FPI chairman Habib Riziq said he favored disbanding the sect or converting its members to orthodox Islam.