End Closures and Prevent Demolition of Ahmadiyah Mosque

On September 3, at least 130 Malay Sunni vigilantes attacked an Ahmadiyah mosque in Balai Harapan village, Sintang regency, West Kalimantan. The attack occurred after Friday prayers, during which the imam at a nearby Sunni mosque, Mochammad Hedi, delivered a speech in which he called the Ahmadiyah “blasphemous,” witnesses said. A local man named Zainudin can be seen on a video leading the mob, armed with bats and wooden sticks, as they burned down a warehouse and ransacked the mosque.

Because of previous threats, police had been posted to protect the Ahmadiyah community of 76 families. Despite desperate requests, the police did not intervene, possibly deciding to allow the attack on the mosque to avoid the chance that their intervention would lead to attacks on the Ahmadiyah villagers, or themselves.

There is now a serious risk of a new round of violence. This is particularly worrisome given the long history of ethnic and religious violence involving Malay, Indigenous Dayak, Madurese, and other groups – usually with complete impunity.

September 3 wasn’t the first time that the local authorities had capitulated to extremists. On August 14, they  sealed the mosque, citing a 2008 decree issued by the government of then-President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono that ordered the Ahmadiyah community to “stop spreading interpretations and activities that deviate from the principal teachings of Islam.” The decree violated international law, which protects the right to freedom of religion. Yudhoyono acted in part under pressure from the Indonesian Ulama Council, a quasi-state institution that had declared the Ahmadiyah to be heretical in a 1980 fatwa and then reissued it in 2005.

The government also claimed that the Sintang mosque did not have a permit. But in remote areas like Sintang, most houses of worship, including Sunni mosques, do not have building permits.

But closing the mosque wasn’t enough for Hedi’s Malay Men’s Union (Persatuan Orang Melayu), which demanded that the government also demolish it. When that didn’t happen, on September 3 they took matters into their own hands.

The Ahmadiyah faith was founded in 1889 in Qadian, a town in what is now India’s Punjab, by a Muslim scholar, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad. The community identifies itself as Muslim, though many Muslims consider the Ahmadiyah to be “deviant.” The Ahmadiyah are banned in Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and some other Muslim-majority countries. Indonesia has  approximately 55,000 Ahmadiyah families.

The Ahmadiyah community has also been targeted in other parts of the country this year. In Garut and Depok, both in West Java province, local governments also sealed Ahmadiyah mosques in May and October.

Indonesia’s National Commission on Human Rights has repeatedly called on the government to revoke the 2008 decree. According to Ahmadiyah sources, more than 30 mosques have been closed down since the 2005 fatwa, mostly in Indonesia’s 24 Muslim-majority provinces. In some cases, Ahmadiyah figures have negotiated with local officials and Muslim leaders to quietly reopen the mosques.

After media coverage of the September 3 events, the police arrested 22 men, including  Hedi and Fathurruzi, charging them with destroying private property and provoking the attack. They are detained at the West Kalimantan police headquarters in Pontianak.

But the problem is far from over, as politicians and others try to make political capital from a highly inflammatory issue. West Kalimantan Governor Sutarmidji called on the Ahmadiyah “to return to the true path of Islam.” In a shocking development, he also visited Hedi and Zainudin in police detention in Pontianak on the day after they were arrested, posing for a photo with both and posting a video of the visit. On September 17, he ramped up the tension, issued a circular calling on the local government to “monitor to what extent the Ahmadiyah are obeying the 2008 decree.”

Meanwhile, an acting regent of Sintang has now issued a warning letter, demanding that the Ahmadiyah community demolish their mosque by November 5.

The Ahmadiyah in Sintang and around Indonesia fear that they are being targeted as part of a larger sectarian fight for political power among other groups.

The government of President Joko Widodo should make it clear that it will have zero tolerance for anyone invoking religion to commit violence against any group in Indonesia. The National Police should investigate the possible role of the Malay Men’s Union and politicians such as Sutarmidji. They should take steps to ensure that the trial of Hedi, Fathurruzi and Zainudin will be free of political pressure.

If the government is serious about Widodo’s claim that Indonesia is a moderate Muslim country, he should ask his cabinet, including Home Affairs Minister Tito Karnavian and Minister of Religious Affairs Yaqut Cholil Qoumas, to revoke the anti-Ahmadiyah decree and end all discrimination in law against religious minorities in the country.

Read the original article HERE.

We are using cookies to give you the best experience. You can find out more about which cookies we are using or switch them off in privacy settings.
AcceptPrivacy Settings

GDPR

This Cookie Policy explains how Ahmadiyya Muslim Association UK (AMA UK)  Limited (“company”, “we”, “us”, and “ours”) use cookies and similar technologies to recognize you when you visit our websites, including without limitation www.ahmadiyyauk.org and its mobile or localized versions and related domains / sub-domains (“Websites”) and/or our mobile application (“App”). It explains what these technologies are and why we use them, as well as your rights to control our use of them.

What are cookies?

Cookies are text files containing small amounts of information which are downloaded to your computer or mobile device when you visit a website or mobile application. Cookies are then sent back to the originating site on each subsequent visit, or to another site that recognizes that cookies. You can find out more information about cookies at www.allaboutcookies.org.

Cookies are widely used in order to make sites work or to work more efficiently.

We use cookies to enhance the online experience of our visitors (for example, by remembering your visits and/or page preferences) and to better understand how our site is used. Cookies may tell us, for example, whether you have visited our site before or whether you are a new visitor.

Cookies can remain on your computer or mobile device for different periods of time. Some cookies are ‘session cookies’, meaning that they exist only while your browser is open. These are deleted automatically once you close your browser. Other cookies are ‘permanent cookies,’ meaning that they survive after your browser is closed. They can be used by the site to recognize your computer or mobile device when you open your browser and browse the Internet again.

Why do we use cookies?

We use cookies for several reasons. Some cookies are required for technical reasons in order for our Websites and/or App to operate, and we refer to these as “essential” or “strictly necessary” cookies. Other cookies also enable us to track and target the interests of our users to enhance the experience on our Websites and/or App. Third parties serve cookies through our Websites and/or App for analytics and other purposes such as Google Analytics. In particular, we use forms related cookies which when you submit data through a form such as those found on contact pages or comment forms cookies may be set to remember your user details for future correspondence.

How can you control cookies?

You have the right to choose whether or not to accept cookies and we have explained how you can exercise this right below. However, please note that if you do not accept our cookies, you may experience some inconvenience in your use of our site.

You can set or amend your web browser controls to accept or refuse cookies. As the means by which you can refuse cookies through your web browser controls vary from browser-to-browser, you should visit your browser’s help menu for more information.

How often will we update this Cookie Policy?

We may update this Cookie Policy from time to time in order to reflect, for example, changes to the cookies we use or for other operational, legal or regulatory reasons. Please, therefore, re-visit this Cookie Policy regularly to stay informed about our use of cookies and related technologies.