Indonesia jails victim of attack on Ahmadi sect

An Indonesian man wounded when Muslim hard-liners attacked members of his minority Islamic sect was sentenced Monday to six months in jail, more than some of the actual attackers who were caught on video.

The Associate Press reports:

Human rights groups blasted the ruling as encouraging growing religious intolerance in Indonesia, the world’s largest Muslim-majority country.

The Serang District Court said Deden Sudjana – whose hand was nearly severed by a machete – resisted police orders to leave the scene and then attacked one of the leaders of the mob that killed three members of the Ahmadiyah sect. […]

So far, 12 members of the mob have been convicted. Their relatively lenient sentences of just three to six months set a chilling message about growing religious intolerance in Indonesia, said Andreas Harsono from Human Rights Watch.

He said the decision to punish one of the victims will only encourage more violence by hard-liners.

Indonesia, a predominantly Muslim and secular nation of 240 million, has a long history of religious tolerance.

But a small, extremist fringe has grown more vocal in recent years and is seeking – with some success – to impose its will on police, the judicial system and the government.

The Jakarta Globe says Deden Sujana, the former head of security for the Indonesian Ahmadiyah Congregation

is accused of triggering the attack in February in Cikeusik, Banten, by disobeying police orders to leave the scene.

He was among 20 Ahmadis who came to protect the home of an Ahmadiyah leader in Cikeusik following rumors that locals wanted to forcibly disband the sect in the area.

The brutal attack involving about 1,500 hard-liners from surrounding villages left three Ahmadis dead and five seriously injured, including Deden.

According to the Jakarta Post

Presiding judge Sumartono said Deden, the only Ahmadi to be tried in relation to the attack, was found guilty of breaching the Criminal Code Article 351 (1) on physical abuse.

Judges also charged Deden with Article 212 on acts against the state, despite the fact that prosecutors had dismissed the article from their indictment.
“The defendant did not obey an order from a police officer who told him to leave the house,” Sumartono said, referring to a testimony from police officer Hasanuddin.

Before the riot began on the morning of February 6, Hasanuddin allegedly told Deden and another 20 Ahmadis to leave their homes in Cikeusik. Deden, however, declined and said he wanted to protect his property.

“The police officer was speaking as a representative of the state. He was the officer in charge,” Sumartono said.

“We charged him because of his disobedience,” he said.

Note: It is the policy of Religion News Blog to file stories regarding acts of hatred committed by Muslims in defense of Islam under the ‘Hate Groups’ topic.

Research resources on Ahmadiyya

No shame for religious killings in Indonesian town

When Dani bin Misra was released from prison last week after serving just three months for smashing in the skull of a member of a Muslim sect, this conservative Indonesian town let out a triumphant cry. “He’s a hero!” Rasna bin Wildan said of the teenage killer.

CBS News reports:

The ferociousness of the attack, captured on video and circulated widely on the Internet, guaranteed no one from the Ahmadiyah group would dare set foot in Cikeusik again, the 38-year-old farmer said as others nodded in agreement.

Their reaction is part of a wider wave of intolerance against religious minorities that is challenging Indonesia’s image as a beacon of how Islam and liberalism can coexist.

Once the preserve of hard-line preachers, the hatred of Ahmadis now seems to be spreading among ordinary people in pockets of the world’s most populous Muslim nation. Whether the government can check this and other intolerance could be key to how Indonesia, home to 240 million people and one of the world’s fastest growing economies, evolves in the 21st century.

There are reasons to worry, analysts say.

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, who relies heavily on Islamic parties for support in parliament, has remained silent as hard-liners shuttered Christian churches, threw Molotov cocktails at one of their theology schools, and attacked worshippers and priests with knives and clubs as they headed to morning prayers.

A string of attacks on the Ahmadiyah — including the torching of mosques and homes — only got worse after a 2008 government decree that said those who follow their practices or proselytize could face up to five years in prison.

Soon after, residents in Cikeusik, a rough-and-tumble farming community less than 120 miles (200 kilometers) from Jakarta, elected a new village chief, Muhammad Johar — the only candidate pledging to take a tough stand against the sect.

Many mainstream Muslims consider the Ahmadis heretics because they do not believe Muhammad was the final prophet.

In the eyes of the villagers, Dani and other members of the frenzied mob who killed three Ahmadis in February were just helping get the job done. Six were wounded, and the others fled with only the clothes on their backs, their houses destroyed and looted.

“I do feel bad people had to die,” said Asep Setiadi, 40, as he headed out to his rice field. “But I’m grateful that they’re finally gone.”

Twenty-eight-year-old Siti Zubaidah, holding her baby girl in a sling as she chatted with a neighbor, had nothing but praise for Dani.

“We had to clean our village,” added Wildan bin Satim, 72. “This is no place for the followers of a cult.” […]

The attack, just a few months after U.S. President Barack Obama held up Indonesia as an example of religious tolerance, sparked global condemnation.

In a rare departure, Yudhoyono called for the perpetrators to be caught and punished, leading to the arrest and trial of Dani and 11 other suspects.

But human rights groups say police, under pressure by hard-liners, did not carry out a proper investigation. Prosecutors, claiming the Ahmadis were instigators, didn’t call key eyewitnesses.

The relatively lenient sentences handed down last week — three to six months — surprised even Dani’s family. Taking into account time served, the teen was released almost immediately. He returned to the nearby village of Cikadu, where he was shielded from the media by his parents.

Note: It is the policy of Religion News Blog to file stories about acts of hatred committed by Muslims under the ‘Hate Groups’ topic.

Indonesia: Hard-line Muslim groups renew attack on Ahmadiyah

Ahmadiyya Three people were allegedly injured and houses damaged when clashes broke out between an angry mob and members of Islamic sect Jamaah Ahmadiyah in Kuningan regency, West Java, on Thursday.

The Ahmadiyah sect, with 500,000 followers in Indonesia, believes that its founder Mirza Ghulam Ahmad was the final prophet and not Mohammad, contrary to the central tenet of mainstream Islam, which says Mohammad is the last prophet. [Read more...]

Ahmadi Muslims in U.S. eager to spread message of nonviolence

Ahmadi Muslims have been preaching peace since the movement was founded. Now, they say they are trying to get the rest of the world to listen, Religion News Service reports.

They are pushing the Muslims for Peace movement, a public awareness campaign started by the Ahmadi community. The campaign advertises Islam as a peaceful religion, condemns terrorism and advocates for the separation of religion and state and human rights.

However, Ahmadis do not believe that Muhammad was God’s final prophet. Hence many extremist Muslims, who see Ahmadis as heretics, have carried out violent terrorist and harassment campaigns against the movement. [Read more...]