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Ahmadiyah worried about security
Tiarma Siboro, The Jakarta Post/Jakarta
Members of Ahmadiyah have voiced concern over their security during the Idul Fitri holiday on Thursday and Friday, following a series of attacks on Ahmadiyah owned mosques and properties by parties who view the group as a “deviant Islamic sect”.
Many Ahmadiyah members are worried they will be unable to perform Idul Fitri prayers safely at their own mosques.
“We have just secured verbal permission from local authorities to perform Idul Fitri prayers in our main mosque in Parung (Bogor, West Java),” Indonesian Ahmadiyah Congregation spokesman A. Mubarik Ahmad said on Tuesday.
“But the authorities told us that only local Ahmadiyah members living near the mosque would be allowed to join the prayers there. So how about our followers elsewhere? Where will they pray?” Mubarik asked.
He said each year at least 1,000 Ahmadiyah members gathered to say Idul Fitri prayers at the group’s main mosque. This year, with the restrictions placed on the group, only about 200 members will be able to pray at the mosque.
“During the fasting month of Ramadhan, we have been performing our evening prayers at our own homes. We cannot go to our mosques for fear of more attacks against us. Now we are worried we will not be able pray together on Idul Fitri in our own mosques,” Mubarik said.
Ichwan Syam, secretary-general of the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI), which has declared Ahmadiyah “heretical”, called on members of the group to take part in Idul Fitri prayers at public mosques.
Ahmadiyah should abandon its “exclusivity” by praying at mosques with other Muslims, he said.
“If they are Muslims, they should perform their Idul Fitri prayers in public mosques like members of Nahdlatul Ulama and Muhammadiyah. They do not need to put up Ahmadiyah banners at their own mosques,” Ichwan said.
In July, thousands of people attacked Ahmadiyah’s headquarters in Parung, forcing its members to leave the area. The Bogor authorities later sealed off the group’s compound to avoid further violence.
The attack was condemned by some Muslim leaders who attributed it to the MUI’s fatwa against Ahmadiyah.
Other Ahmadiyah properties across the country were also attacked, including incidents in Cianjur, West Java, and Lombok, West Nusa Tenggara.
The MUI considers Ahmadiyah heretical because it embraces different tenets from mainstream Islamic groups.
Ahmadiyah claims to have 200,000 followers in Indonesia, where it was established in 1953. The group does not believe that Muhammad was the last Prophet, instead teaching that Ahmadiyah founder Mirza Ghulam Ahmad was the final prophet.
“Since our group was established in Indonesia, we have not been bothered by any other group. But this year we are not even sure we will be able to perform our Idul Fitri prayers,” Mubarak said.
With assistance from the Jakarta-based Legal Aid Institute, Ahmadiyah filed a complaint with the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights on Monday about the loss of freedom for minority groups in Indonesia to profess their faith.
In the complaint to the UN commission, the institute also extended complaints from the Indonesian Communion of Churches (PGI) over attacks on its churches and other houses of worship by Muslims.
The secretary-general of the PGI in Jakarta, Chevrolet Lumbantoruan, said about 60 Christian houses of worship in West Java had been forced to close their doors or were destroyed by Muslim extremists.