Monday, August 1, 2011

Ahmadiyah Community Fears Burst of Violence Over Holy Month

Jakarta Globe, Indonesia
Ahmadiyah Community Fears Burst of Violence Over Holy Month
Ulma Haryanto | August 01, 2011

As Indonesia’s Muslim majority prepares for Ramadan and Idul Fitri, the minority Ahmadiyah Islamic sect is bracing itself for more persecution.

“Especially during Ramadan, there are more opportunities for [anti-Ahmadiyah] groups to mobilize masses and spread hatred [against us],” said Firdaus Mubarik, spokesman for the Indonesian Ahmadiyah Congregation (JAI).

Fresh from a disheartening court ruling against Islamic radicals who attacked and killed Ahmadis in Cikeusik, Banten, Firdaus fears for the worst after previous Ramadan experiences.

“A mosque in Tasikmalaya was burned several years ago [during Ramadan]. And the clash in Manis Lor also happened a week before Ramadan started,” he said.

The Islamic holy month, Firdaus said, has been used as an excuse by hard-liners to “purge” unholiness, which for them included the Ahmadiyah.

“The [Cikeusik] ruling is no longer our concern. It’s the possibility that violence might occur at anytime in the future,” he said.

The ruling handed out jail sentences of three to six months to 12 men involved in the brutal Feb. 6 attack in which about 1,500 hard-liners launched an assault on a house with 20 Ahmadis. Three Ahmadis died in the videotaped attack while five others were seriously injured.

“Over the years we’ve received intimidation and threats and have been expelled. The lenient sentence is an invitation for more violence,” Firdaus said.

On Saturday, nearly 1,500 hard-liners marched toward the presidential palace in Jakarta demanding the government disband Ahmadiyah.

Islamic Defender’s Front (FPI) leader Muhammad Rizieq Shihab, who was previously convicted of instigating an attack against Ahmadis, called on President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to “not be a coward.”

Some marchers held placards that said “Disband Ahmadiyah or Revolution” and “War against Ahmadiyah.”

Firdaus said Ahmadiyah communities, especially those in vulnerable areas, were going to increase their guard for Ramadan.

The Cikeusik verdict has received widespread international condemnation, the latest coming from Christian Solidarity Worldwide.

“The shockingly lenient sentences imposed on the perpetrators of some of the worst anti-minority violence in recent years raises serious questions about the integrity of Indonesia’s justice system, and gives the extremists a green light to continue their campaign of hatred,” CSW’s Advocacy Director Andrew Johnston said in a statement.

“It leaves religious minorities throughout Indonesia, not only in West Java, and not only the Ahmadiyah community, vulnerable and defenseless,” he said.

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