Top official defends Ahmadiyah
Deputy Religious Affairs Minister Nasaruddin Umar has taken a different viewpoint from his superior regarding an attack on an Ahmadiyah mosque in Tasikmalaya, West Java, on Friday.
Nasaruddin was quoted by Antara news agency as saying that the police should take the incident in the Singaparna district seriously, adding that any individuals involved in the attack should be brought to justice.
“This is a national task for all of us. The police must find the identity of the assailants,” he said on Monday.
In response to the same incident, Religious Affairs Minister Surya-dharma Ali said that it was the Ahmadis who must obey the law.
Suryadharma, who chairs the United Development Party (PPP), said that while offenders must be charged, “the Ahmadis must abandon their defiant beliefs”.
He was referring to the 2008 joint ministerial decree banning members of the Ahmadiyah Indonesia Congregation (JAI) from propagating their religious beliefs.
Several Ahmadi groups in the country have been attacked by members of the mainstream Sunni community, who are convinced that Ahmadis violated the ban by spreading their beliefs, mainly that Muhammad is not the last prophet, a heresy according to mainstream Islamic teaching.
Reports said some 150 people attacked a mosque where 80 male and female Ahmadis were performing Friday prayers. Several were injured in the attack, during which windows were shattered and carpets were burned. Police said that they were outnumbered.
No arrests have been made as yet and the local branch of the Islam Defenders Front (FPI) has denied reports of its involvement in the incident.
Nasaruddin, founder of an interfaith organization, Masyarakat Dialog antar Umat Beragama (Public Interreligious Dialogue), argued that the 2008 decree lacked protections for minority groups.
Nasaruddin called on members of the House of Representatives to immediately pass the long-awaited religious harmony bill into law.
“The law is needed to bridge the gap between many religious groups in our country as well as to sustain the harmony between them,” he said.
West Java Governor Ahmad Heryawan said that provocateurs could be behind the Friday attack.
Ahmad said that based on testimony from members of Muslim organizations who staged a protest in front of the Ahmadi mosque, they meant only to convey their message about Ahmadis joining their communal house of worship.
“They didn’t mean to throw rocks at the mosque. But suddenly, a group of unknown individuals started throwing things, provoking the protesters to do the same,” he said after opening an interfaith dialogue at the Gedung Sate gubernatorial office in Bandung, West Java.
He called on all parties involved in the dispute regarding the fate of the Ahmadiyah sect to refrain from taking excessive measures.
The governor also called on Ahmadiyah followers to comply with 12 points in the joint ministerial decree signed in 2008, including interacting with other Muslims when praying.
In Sampang, Madura, a local Shia leader who became a target of arson in December, is expected to stand trial for blasphemy on Tuesday.
Tajul Muluk was named a suspect for blasphemy last month and his case was handed over by the local police to the Sampang Prosecutor’s Office on April 12.
The head of the Sampang Prosecutor’s Office, Danang Purwoko, said the arrest was made to guarantee the safety of Tajul, considering that he was considered a menace to the local community. (aml)