Thirty six followers of Ahmadiyah “converted” to Sunni Islam during a ceremony conducted at Agung grand mosque in Tasikmalaya, West Java, on Thursday.
“We really appreciate the move from those former Ahmadiyah followers,” said Tasikmalaya Religious Affairs Ministry office head Dadang Romansyah.
Dadang said that the ministry expected more Ahmadiyah followers would change religion and turn to Islam by pronouncing the syahadat (creed) as a sign that they acknowledge true Islamic teaching.
“There have been around 400 out of 3,000 Ahmadiyah followers that have convert to Islam,” Dadang said as quoted by tempo.co.
Amid rampant persecution against Ahmadiyah followers, who are accused of practicing “deviant” Islam, Dadang claimed that the ministry and social organizations used a friendly and soft approach to persuade them to convert to Sunni.
According to Muhammad Sofyan, a figure from the Tasikmalaya branch of the hard line Islam Defenders Front (FPI), the FPI is one of the organizations helping Ahmadiyah followers to turn to Islam.
Sofyan also said that the FPI would give religious counseling and guidance to the converts, who mostly came from Kutawaringin and Tenjowaringin villages in Salawu district.
“We do the counseling in a casual way. I often visit Kutawaringin to preach. Thank God, they were encouraged [to convert to Islam],” he said.
Sofyan said that the FPI would initiate a group called the Association of Ahmadiyah Former Victims (Inkasa).
“We and the ministry promise to give attention to their financial situation,” he said.
He said the FPI and the ministry would give the converts training in animal husbandry, fisheries and agriculture.
A former follower of Ahmadiyah, Rani Rahmawati, 26, said she followed her personal’s desire when converting to Sunni Islam. She said that she only followed Ahmadiyah teachings because her parents are Ahmadis.
Being a minority group among Sunni believers in Indonesia, Ahmadis often received physical and psychological threats from radical Islamic groups. In 2011, hundreds of people stormed an Ahmadiyah’s village in Cikeusik, Banten, brutally killing three, injuring five and displacing dozens of others.
In West Nusa Tenggara, the Ahmadis have been forced to live in temporary shelters for years after being evicted from their homes. (cor/lfr)