Thursday, January 27, 2011

Crowd bullies Ahmadi at trial, disrupts courtroom

Thu, 01/27/2011
11:02 AM
Crowd bullies Ahmadi at trial, disrupts courtroom
Hans David Tampubolon, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta
An elderly man was harassed by a rowdy mob on Wednesday as he testified in court about the destruction the property of Ahmadiyah followers in Ciampea, Bogor.

Mubarik Ahmadari came to the Cibinong District Court in Bogor on Wednesday to testify about the attack against his fellow Ahmadiyah members in October.

The 70-year-old man was greeted by more than 1,000 anti-Ahmadiyah protesters. Members of the crowd claimed to be residents of Ciampea who came to support the alleged arsonists on trial: Dede Novi, Aldi and Akbar.

The protesters jammed the courtroom. Many had to stand outside. Throughout the trial, unruly protesters in the courtroom were heard yelling, demanding that the judges drop all charges against the suspects and that the government disband Ahmadiyah.

Despite the clamor, Mubarik remained calm and told the court a version of events that was vociferously rejected by onlookers. He seemed unfazed by the constant din of mockery and hate-filled comments directed at him.

However, even after giving his testimony, Mubarik found that his day was not over yet.

As Mubarik finished his testimony he went to exit the courtroom. Protesters blocked his path. Some stood at the doors. Others tried to grab him.

Police officers were there to protect the witness from what looked to be a potential savage beating at the angry rabble’s hands. After a brief scuffle, officers safely escorted Mubarik out of the courtroom.

Mubarik was one of four witnesses heard in Wednesday’s court session.

Around 20 people attacked Cisalada village in Ciampea in October, vandalizing and setting fire to the community’s mosque and the homes and vehicles of Ahmadiyah followers.

Hendardi, a human rights activist from the Setara Institute, said what happened to Mubarik was evidence that intolerance had become a dangerous disease in Indonesia.

“The fact that a man could be terrorized at a court of law is a horrific occurrence in the life of our nation,” Hendardi told The Jakarta Post over the telephone on Wednesday.

“This shows how the state is completely helpless in ensuring the basic human rights of its citizens,” he added.

Hendardi said that if the state continued to fail to impose strict punishment on violent fundamentalists, then violent acts, such as the those perpetrated on Mubarik and other Ahmadiyah followers, would continue.

Followers of Ahmadiyah have come under attack in recent years from Islamic hardliners who believe that the sect follows a heretical version Islam.

While the earliest recorded attacks against Ahmadis date to the early 1950s, it was not until 2005 that violence intensified dramatically.

In 2010 alone there were 10 recorded attacks against Ahmadis throughout the archipelago.

The government drew criticism from human rights activists for symbolically condoning violence against Ahmadis after Religious Affairs Minister Suryadharma Ali said that it would be better if the Ahmadiyah sect was “disbanded”. Suryadharma is also the chairman of the United Development Party (PPP), an Islamic-based political party.

^ Top of Page