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Indonesians Feel Ahmadis Should Be Protected as Fellow Countrymen: Poll
Ronna Nirmala | September 09, 2011
FPI members protesting in front of Ahmadiyah secretariat in Makassar. They urged the Ahmadiyah members to stop their activities. (Antara Photo/Yusran Uccang)
Most Indonesians oppose the use of violence against the minority Muslim sect Ahmadiyah and think its followers here are their compatriots and should not be facing oppression, a survey by a human rights watchdog showed on Thursday.
Many respondents also said the deadly February attack in Cikeusik, Banten, occured because the government allowed it to happen, the Setara Institute for Freedom and Democracy said.
When asked who should be held accountable for the Cikeusik attack, in which three Ahmadis were killed, 33 percent of respondents said: “I don’t know.”
Another 32 percent blamed the government and security officials for doing little to prevent it, and 18 percent blamed the Ahmadiyah as they spread “blasphemous teachings.” The remaining 17 percent blamed the hard-line Muslims who carried out the attack, the survey said.
“The poll also indicates that almost 70 percent of the respondents consciously said that whatever happened, Ahmadiyah members are their fellow countrymen — aside from their differences in interpreting religion,” said Ismail Hasani, a researcher with Setara.
The survey was conducted among about 3,000 respondents in 27 districts in nine provinces, including Jakarta, West Java, Yogyakarta, East Java and West Nusa Tenggara.
A majority of respondents, about 60 percent, said they had no idea about what Ahmadiyah teachings entailed.
“Although some [Muslim] respondents refused to call Ahmadiyah followers their brothers, they agreed the attack in Cikeusik should never have happened,” said Bonar Tigor Naipospos, the deputy chairman of Setara. In fact, only a small portion of those questioned said the Cikeusik incident was caused by differences over religious beliefs.
“Some of them believed that it happened because of a fabricated issue from a third party, not related to religious interests,” Bonar said.
Two months ago, the Serang District Court in Banten convicted 12 hard-line Muslims for the Cikeusik attack but sentenced them to a maximum of just six months in jail.
Deden Sujana, the former head of security for the Indonesian Ahmadiyah Congregation (JAI), was a sentenced to six months in jail by the same court last month. He was found guilty of disobeying police officers who had ordered him and about a dozen other Ahmadis to leave the house they occupied just before the violence broke out. Deden was badly injured in the attack.