The Jakarta Post The Archipelago Tue, 09/30/2008 10:19 AM
Panca Nugraha, The Jakarta Post, Mataram
West Nusa Tenggara Police have stressed that members of the Ahmadiyah sect seeking refuge at the Mataram Transmigration Transit Center during the Idul Fitri holiday would be safe, with officers conducting routine patrols on site.
“The police have so far not specifically posted personnel at the location, but we are patrolling the area on a regular basis,” provincial police spokesman Comr. Tribudi Pangastuti told The Jakarta Post on Monday.
“They remain Indonesian citizens who should be protected.”
Tribudi added police personnel deployment at the transit center would depend on the situation there.
Ever since the government issued a joint decree banning Ahmadiyah activities, police have been monitoring the group and conducting routine patrols to ensure they are not targeted by hard-line Islamic activists.
“The situation remains calm as of now. There’s still no reaction from the public. The center has never been a scene of protest over the presence of the group,” Tribudi said.
As in previous years, hundreds of Ahmadiyah refugees will this year perform Idul Fitri prayers Wednesday at a small mosque in the transit center.
“Actually, we were looking forward to performing the prayers at our home village, but we will be staying here this year because we still hold refugee status,” said Ahmadiyah refugee coordinator Syahidin.
He said that after the Idul Fitri prayer, those living at the transit center, and others at the former Praya Hospital in Central Lombok would visit each other for the traditional seeking of forgiveness.
Some 137 Ahmadiyah members from 33 families are still sheltering at the transit center after being forced from their homes in Gegerung village, West Lombok, in February 2006.
As many as 57 other refugees from 15 families are still occupying the former Praya Hospital, having been forced from their homes in Praya village, Central Lombok, in June 2006.
In that time, six people have died and eight babies have been born.
Ahmadiyah advisor Syaiful Uyun told the Post the provincial office of the Religious Affairs Ministry had held a dialogue with Ahmadis in mid-September.
But there has yet to be any visit by officials to the evacuation centers, he added.
“The joint decree states that Ahmadiyah not to proselytize its teaching and live exclusively, calling for an integration with the public at large,” he said.
“But how can we mix if we are still taking refuge here? The government should have resolved the refugee issue first.”
Syaiful also said that during the dialogue, a number of people had asked Ahmadiyah members to perform a mass repentance in public, similar to that done by members of the Al-Qiyadah Al-Islamiyah sect.
“This confuses us. Al-Qiyadah is obviously a deviant sect because it acknowledges its leader Musadeq as the last prophet, and thus ought to repent,” Syaiful said.
“But we recognize Prophet Muhammad as the final prophet and pledge the same syahadah (profession of faith) as other Muslims. So what should we repent for?”
Ahmadiyah is considered heretical by many mainstream Muslims for its recognition of founder Mirza Ghulam Ahmad as a prophet, despite Islamic tenet insisting Muhammad was the final prophet and no prophet could come after him.
The group eventually split into two schools of thought, with one still recognizing Ahmad as a prophet and messiah, and the other considering Ahmad just a reformer, not a prophet.
The provincial administration is still monitoring the Ahmadis’ activities before it decides to return them to their homes.
H.M. Nur, head of the provincial People’s Unity and Protection Agency, said the government would persuade the communities that expelled the Ahmadiyah members to accept them back.
“If the Ahmadiyah members have abided by the joint decree, but the local communities have yet to accept them, this could also cause a problem,” he said.