Indonesian police are investigating an attack on members of Ahmadiyya — a Muslim minority sect. During the attack three people were killed and five others were injured.
The home of a Ahmadiyah sect preacher was raided Sunday by more than 1,000 people — some wielding knives, sticks and rocks, according to police.
Authorities said before the attack, security personnel were trying to persuade the preacher and about 20 other visitors to leave the home in Banten province on the island of Java.
Residents who oppose the presence of the Ahmadiyah in the area were demanding the group stop its activities, authorities said.
Police said the crowd grew unexpectedly and the situation turned violent. The victims were all members of the Ahmadiyah, according to local police chief, Lt. Col. Alex Fauzy Rasyad.
Amateur video taken at the scene using a small mobile device was handed to the organization Human Rights Watch.
The video showed brutal scenes of attackers pummeling what seemed like lifeless bodies of victims with sticks.
While Ahmadis refer to themselves as Muslims, theologically Ahmadiyya is considered a sect or cult of Islam.
The primary reason for this is that Ahmadis reject the notion that Muhammad is the last prophet. This teaching is one of the essential doctrines of the Islamic faith. Aside from this, Ahmadis observe almost all Muslim practices, including reciting the Koran, praying five times a day and fasting during the month of Ramadan.
Though Ahmadiyya is one of the most peaceful forms of Islam, in several countries extremist Muslims — who view the Ahmadis as heretics — have carried out savage attacks against the sect’s followers.
Indonesia issued in 2008 a joint ministerial decree, prohibiting the sect — which has about 200,000 members in Indonesia — from spreading its beliefs.
Since then, many hardliners have often taken the law into their own hands, at times attacking the sect’s followers and their properties around the country.
“For years, Indonesian authorities have sat idly by while mobs have violently attacked the Ahmadiyah,” said Elaine Pearson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch.
According to CNN Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has condemned the attacks.
Security Minister Dyoko Suyanto called for an investigation, but also asked the sect to abide by the 2008 ministerial decree.
The police chief said an investigation is under way, and authorities are identifying the perpetrators.
Identifying the criminals should be easy, since they were caught on video.
The Jakarta Post says:
Horrifying video footage circulating among news organizations in Jakarta shows that Indonesian police were outnumbered and unable to prevent the brutal attacks on members of the Ahmadiyah sect that left three people dead on Sunday in a Banten village.
In the 30-minute video —apparently shot in secret by the Indonesian Ahmadiyah Congregation (JAI) — only about 30 police officers can be seen guarding the home of Ahmadiyah cleric Ismail Suparman.
They offer little resistance to a mob of about 1,500 people carrying bamboo planks and machetes, and are quickly overwhelmed.
Edited excerpts of the video have begun airing on Indonesian TV stations, but the most graphic violence has been left off the air, perhaps to avoid stirring up further religious hatred.