Fachmi Muhammad, a municipal spokesman, said the Al-Hidayah Mosque on Jalan Raya Muchtar in Sawangan subdistrict “will be changed for normal public use, so it’s no longer going to be privately owned by the Ahmadiyah congregation.”
The mosque, built and used since 1999 by members of the minority Ahmadiyah sect, was sealed off on March 19 by a group of locals.
Yendra Budiana, a spokesman for the Ahmadiyah congregation in Depok, told the Jakarta Globe that a mob of 30 people had boarded up the mosque’s doors and windows with wooden bars.
“The police, who outnumbered the mob, just stood by watching,” he said.
He said he believed the mob was led by Damanhuri, the owner of an Islamic boarding school located nearby.
“We never had any problems when we first built the mosque, even though the boarding school was already there,” he said.
“Besides, sealing off a house of worship won’t stop people from believing.”
Damanhuri said the mosque would remain closed off “until doomsday,” as quoted by news portal okezone.com
“Residents will watch over it 24 hours a day. If the seal is breached, I don’t know what they will do [to the Ahmadis],” he said.
Fachmi argued that the administration’s seizure of the building was lawful in light of a decree issued by the mayor of Depok earlier this month. “The decree refers to the West Java gubernatorial decree forbidding Ahmadiyah from conducting any activities or spreading its teachings,” he said.
He said the Depok administration was carrying out a campaign to educate the public about the decree.
Both East Java Governor Soekarwo and West Java Governor Ahmad Heryawan have issued decrees restricting the activities of members of the beleaguered sect.
The issuance was quickly followed up on by district heads in both provinces.
West Java officials have taken the issue a step further, coordinating with the local military command and urging mainstream Muslims to occupy Ahmadiyah mosques, with non-Ahmadis leading Friday prayer sermons in hopes of getting Ahmadis to renounce their version of the faith.
Ahmadis have frequently been persecuted over the high regard in which they hold the sect’s founder, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad.
Mainstream Muslims say that regard violates one of the key tenets of Islam, which holds that Muhammad was the religion’s last prophet.
Abdul Kadir Wokanubun, advocacy and campaign director at the Indonesian Legal Aid Foundation (YLBHI), said the regional decrees restricting the Ahmadis’ activities had no strong legal basis.
“First, the 2008 joint ministerial decree on Ahmadiyah that they [the East and West Java governors and other local officials] claim is the basis for their decrees isn’t even a valid piece of legislation,” he said.
Second, the 2004 Regional Administrations Law clearly refers matters of religion and faith to the central government’s authority, Abdul pointed out.
“What these regional leaders have done is actually against the law,” he said.
“The fact that they’re now trying to take over property that belongs to the congregation is another legal issue, but we’re not going there yet.”