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.
Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs Minister Djoko Suyanto slammed the incident and told people to stop resorting to violence.
“The problem should be taken care of peacefully, not through violence,” he told Antara news agency.
The incident drew immediate criticism, with National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) official Hesty Armiwulan saying it showed the country’s poor law enforcement. “The government should find a solution to this problem instead of siding with one group and violating the rights of minorities.”
The clash erupted after 500 protesters from several hard-line Islamic groups pushed their way into the sect’s complex at Manis Lor village, located some 40 kilometers south of nearby Cirebon city and home to the 3,000 Ahmadiyah adherents since 1954, the largest Ahmadiyah community in the country.
The two groups threw stones and fought with wooden sticks. “Ahmadiyah should be banned. Our demand is not negotiable,” said Andi Mulya, leader of the Movement against Illegal Sects and Non-Believers (GAPAS).
He said the protestors included members of the Islam Defenders Front (FPI), the Indonesia Mujahidin Council (MMI) and the Islamic Community Forum (FUI) from outside the regency,
“We’re united in our demand,” Andi said, adding that three members from the hard-line groups were injured in the clash.
The demand was made after public order officers sealed off eight Ahmadiyah mosques in the village on Monday and Wednesday. But residents later reopened the mosques.
Before Thursday’s clash, protesters held a prayer vigil outside the village administration office, demanding the regency and the central government disband the sect.
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.
Ahmad is claimed to be a reincarnation of Prophet Mohammad, a claim rejected by mainstream Muslim authorities and scholars. He is also claimed to be the Christian messiah. His sect believes that Jesus did not die on the cross, but moved to India where he died aged 120.
The Indonesian Council of Ulemas (MUI), the country’s top Islamic body, in its fatwa in 2008 described the sect as “deviant.”
Jakarta has banned the Ahmadiyahs from holding their rituals in public but has stopped short of banning it altogether after two previous attempts by local authorities and the police to close the mosque failed in the face of stiff resistance from the community.
The Setara Institute for Peace and Democracy recorded 33 cases of attacks on Ahmadiyahs last year and many other instances of religious discrimination of Christians.
MANISLOR, Indonesia €” A minority Islamic sect told followers Friday to prepare for war after rock-throwing mobs attacked one of their mosques in central Indonesia, calling its members heretics.
The weeklong violence in Manislor, a village in West Java province, peaked Thursday after more than 500 hard-liners from the Islamic Defenders Front, known as FPI, clashed with 3,000 Ahmadiyah sect followers.
At least eight people were injured, including three police.
“We have to defend ourselves and our mosques,” said Deden Sujana, who heads security for the sect, saying hard-liners have “gone too far.”
“We call on Ahmadiyah followers to fight against them in the name of Allah,” Sujana said.
Indonesia, a secular state of 235 million, has more Muslims than any other in the world.
Most people practice a moderate form of the faith, but a small but vocal extremist fringe has gained influence in recent years because the government relies heavily on Muslim parties in parliament.
Ahmadiyah, which has roughly 200,000 members, is considered deviant by conservatives because it does not recognize Muhammad as the final prophet. Perpetrators of violence against the sect often go unpunished.
Religious Affairs Minister Suryadharma Ali called Ahmadiyah apostate to Islamic teaching and said followers should stop propagating their faith.
“It’s clear from a 2008 joint ministerial decree that Ahmadiyah is not a religion and can be categorized as deviant to Islam. Therefore [Ahmadiyah] followers had better stop their activities,” the minister said.
Suryadharma also warned the public against resorting to violence in dealing with the “issue” as occurred on Thursday in Kuningan, West Java.
“The government will not tolerate any use of violence in dealing with sectarianism and all religious communities have to abide by the law to maintain order and security,” he said in Jakarta, after inaugurating the Al-Jabr International Islamic Junior High School in Pondok Labu, South Jakarta, on Friday.
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