Idul Adha celebrations in Ban-dung, West Java, were tarnished by an attack launched by members of hard-line group the Islam Defenders Front (FPI) on An-Nasir mosque, home to hundreds of Ahmadiyah followers who were later barred from performing Idul Adha prayers and slaughtering animals during the Islamic Day of Sacrifice on Friday.
Members of the FPI raided the mosque on Thursday night, damaging it and prohibiting Ahmadis from celebrating Idul Adha.
Abdul Wahid Yora, an Ahmadi, said he and some other Ahmadis were at the mosque when 10 people arrived claiming to be local FPI members and entered the mosque.
Yora and his two fellow Ahmadis were later forced to sign an agreement not to hold Idul Adha prayers and slaughter sacrificial animals on the day.
“I refused to do so because we have the right to perform the religious ritual,” Yora said, adding that the three of them were taken to the Astana Anyar Police precinct. At the police station, Yora claimed that they were still forced to sign the agreement.
The three of them were finally
released on Friday morning, but when they returned to their mosque, they found the mosque’s entrance gate damaged and its glass windows broken.
Ahmadi members decided to abort the Idul Adha prayer, the animal sacrificing ritual and the Friday prayer for security reasons, despite the fact that they received five cows and four goats to be slaughtered and handed out to families.
The representative of FPI Ban-dung Raya, Muhammad Asep Abdurahman alias Utep, said that breaking the mosque’s glass windows was a spontaneous action.
He said that the three Ahmadis, who were taken to the police, did not want to obey the West Java gubernatorial regulation banning Ahmadis from conducting public activities.
“I was angry. I went to the mosque and smashed its windows. My rage was triggered by the Ahmadis’ reaction,” said Utep.
West Java Police spokesman Sr. Comr. Martinus Sitompul said that his team had investigated the damage to the mosque. He said the police had gathered evidence and would seek other witnesses.
“We will question the FPI about this issue,” he said.
Last year, West Java Governor Ahmad Heryawan issued Gubernatorial Regulation No. 12 banning Ahmadis from conducting any public activity.
Ahmad claimed that the regulation had reduced attacks against Ahmadis. Therefore, an evaluation of the regulation was unnecessary, he added.
However, Ahmad said that physical violence against Ahmadis or their property was not allowed under the law.
“The law forbids physical attacks on anyone,” he said as quoted by Antara news agency.
“If there are physical assaults uncovered in the last incident, I will let the police handle it,” he said.
In the last few years, demands to ban Ahmadiyah have increased in a number of regions across the country. The sect is dubbed heretical by some because it does not follow mainstream Islamic teachings.
Ahmadis believe Mirza Ghulam Ahmad is their prophet, but this is considered heretical by mainstream Islam, which recognizes Muhammad as the final prophet while considering Mirza a preacher.
There is a history of violent incidents involving the FPI and Ahmadiyah, with FPI members reportedly attacking Ahmadis and damaging their places of worship.
Many Ahmadis have also been displaced after being evicted from their homes.
Head of internal affairs at Bandung Legal Aid Center Unung Nuralamsyah expressed her regret over the recent incident.
“Why did the police put pressure on the Ahmadis? Citizens have their rights to perform their religious practices. The police must investigate the violence,” said Unung.