In a hearing at the district legislature on Monday, dozens of clerics and community elders said the three men nominated for the post by the district head — Iman Ali Rahman, Hermanto and Indriana Soemarto — were “suspected of following Ahmadiyah teachings.”
Ahmad Hidayat, one of the clerics, said this was grounds for the district head to “repeal all the nominations made earlier.”
Legislative speaker Irfan Suryanagara pointed out that there were no provisions forbidding members of the minority Islamic sect from seeking office.
“All citizens are guaranteed equal legal standing. That’s the law,” he said.
However, he conceded to demands that candidates be questioned about their backgrounds.
“If they’re believed to be from a certain element of society, we have to look into whether the allegations are true,” he said.
District head Aceng Fikri labeled the allegations by the clerics questionable, but he declined to comment on whether he would nominate an Ahmadiyah follower to his administration.
“I’m not going to comment on it because I’m bound to be accused of discrimination,” he told the Jakarta Globe.
He stressed none of the candidates were Ahmadis.
“They’ve been accused of being Ahmadiyah, but there’s nothing to indicate this, so we could be dealing with a baseless accusation here,” he said.
He added that one of the candidates, Iman, had even gone so far as to sign a sworn statement before a group of clerics to deny he was an Ahmadi.
He said all three candidates had met the requirements to become district secretary, a post second in command to the district head and his deputy.
“For that reason, I refuse to withdraw their candidacies and will stick with my decision,” Aceng said.
Members of the Ahmadiyah continue to face acts of discrimination and outright oppression by mainstream and hard-line Muslims across much of the country, including West Java.
In October, a mob of 200 looted homes and burned down a mosque and school belonging to an Ahmadiyah community in Bogor.
Similar attacks have also occurred recently in Cianjur, Sukabumi, Garut, Tasikmalaya, Ciamis and Kuningan, while in West Nusa Tenggara, an Ahmadiyah community purged from its village in 2006 has been forced to live in a “temporary” shelter and denied permission to return home.