Saturday, October 22, 2011

We’re not safe living anywhere: Ahmadis

Jakarta Post, Indonesia
CITYSat, 10/22/2011 12:37 PM
We’re not safe living anywhere: Ahmadis
The Jakarta Post, Bekasi
The imam of the Al-Misbah Ahmadiyah mosque in Jatibening, Bekasi, recently called on members not to congregate for Friday prayers for safety reasons following an official ban on Ahmadiyah religious practices in Bekasi.

Rahmat Rahmadijaya, the imam, said, “It’s up to them if they want to pray here anyway. I won’t send them home,” he said, adding that about 50 of the 200 registered followers were regulars at the mosque.

However, dozens of Ahmadiyah members still went to the mosque on Friday — a week after the Bekasi municipality officially banned the sect — and conducted Friday prayers under police guard.

“[Intimidation] makes us stronger. Members are even more determined to go to the mosque,” Vera, a member, told The Jakarta Post.

Congregation members later left the mosque peacefully after the weekly service concluded.

The Bekasi municipality ruled last week that the decree banning Ahmadiyah religious practices had been passed in order to meet the demands of local people.

The Ahmadiyah are not considered a Muslim group by mainstream Muslims, as the sect’s teachings are considered to deviate from mainstream Islam.

However, residents of Jatibening told the Post that there had never been any conflict between Ahmadiyah members, who mostly live outside the housing complex, and them.

Hartinah, who has lived in the neighborhood since before the mosque was built in the 1980s, said there had been no problems between Ahmadiyah followers and residents.

“As a child, I, along with neighbors, often joined Koran recitations or breaking of the fast events at the mosque. They are friendly and have never forced us to follow their beliefs, so we have no problems with their presence,” she said.

Hartinah said that people had started to leave the mosque following the spike in reports of violence against Ahmadiyah members throughout the country.

“I’m not sure who is right, but the presence of vigilante group members around here scares me more,” Hartinah said.

Imam Rahmat said that after the Bekasi decree issuance, he had been intensively communicating with the police. “When there are rumors that certain groups will come, the police deploy officers to guard the mosque,” he said.

Ahmadiyah members have not been holding regular events other than weekly Friday prayers and sermons.

Firdaus Mubarik, public relations officer of the Ahmadiyah Indonesia Congregation, told the Post that the organization had stopped holding national events after thousands attacked the Ahmadiyah Indonesia Congregation in Parung, Bogor, in 2005.

“We are no longer safe anywhere in Indonesia,” Firdaus said.

Concerning the appointment of Nasaruddin Umar as the religious affairs deputy minister tasked with “eliminating possible religious conflicts” during the recent Cabinet reshuffle, Mubarik said he was pessimistic that it would have any impact on the Ahmadis.

“As far as I know, Nasaruddin was involved in the drafting of the 2008 joint ministerial decree banning Ahmadiyah religious practices. Besides, [the problem solving] is not in the hands of ministers, but of the President [Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono],” he said.

Firdaus pointed out that the incidence of violence against Ahmadis had increased and worsen during Yudhoyono’s leadership.

“Before Yudhoyono came to power, the eviction of 300 Ahmadis living in Lombok [West Nusa Tenggara] in 2002 was the biggest tragedy for us. During Yudhoyono’s leadership, we’ve seen worse and even lost several members, who were killed during the incidents,” Firdaus said. (swd)

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