Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Hard-Line Group Lashes Out At Bekasi Ahmadis

Jakarta Globe, Indonesia
Hard-Line Group Lashes Out At Bekasi Ahmadis
Ulma Haryanto | November 15, 2011

More than 30 people claiming to be from the notorious Islamic Defenders Front besieged an Ahmadiyah mosque in the Jatibening area of Bekasi on Monday, demanding it be sealed off.

Local Ahmadiyah leader Rahmat Rahmadijaya told the Jakarta Globe that the group tried to place a placard in front of the mosque to make clear that Ahmadis were not allowed to worship.

“It happened around 2 p.m., about 30 people entered the mosque. They wanted to hang up a placard stating that Ahmadiyah is banned, based on the Joint Ministerial Decree, a West Java gubernatorial decree and a decree by the Bekasi mayor,” Rahmat said, referring to the activists.

Human rights groups have blamed the 2008 joint ministerial decree for increasing violence against followers of the minority Muslim sect.

The Setara Institute for Peace and Democracy said the number of attacks rose from three in 2006 to 50 in 2010.

Earlier this year, West Java Governor Ahmad Heryawan issued a decree banning the sect from spreading its beliefs through any media and forbidding the display of its name in public, including signposts on mosques. A similar decree was signed by Bekasi’s acting mayor, Rahmat Effendi, and went into effect last month.

The Ahmadiyah mosque had faced weekly threats from the local Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) branch and had to hold its Friday prayers under protection from Bekasi Police. There are around 200 Ahmadis in the area.

Bekasi Police Chief Sr. Comr. Priyo Widyanto denied there had been a siege.

“It is a lie. The truth is that the Bekasi municipality was only trying to hang a placard in front of their mosque, banning Ahmadiyah,” Priyo said, adding that the event was also witnessed by officials from the Indonesian Council of Ulema (MUI), the Inter-Religious Communication Forum (FKUB) and the FPI.

The police chief of Pondok Gede district, Sr. Comr. Burhanuddin, said police were aware of hard-line Muslim groups’ opposition to the presence of Ahmadis and had “secured” the area.

Firdaus Mubarik, a spokesman for the Indonesian Ahmadiyah Congregation (JAI), said the Bekasi anti-Ahmadiyah decree could be used by hard-line groups to legitimize their harassment.

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