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Four injured as Indon Muslims attack sect settlement
JAKARTA — A GROUP of Muslim activists have attacked the settlement of an Islamic sect in a village on the main island of Java, resulting in a clash that left four injured, police and reports said on Wednesday.
The Ahmadiyah sect believes that Muhammed was not the final prophet, contradicting a central tenet of mainstream Islam. The group has a few thousand members in Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim nation.
’The incident took place around noon yesterday (1pm Singapore time) with more than 100 members of Kompak (the Muslim Coalition of Kuningan) attacking houses and places of worship belonging to Ahmadiyah members,’ said a policeman in West Java’s Kuningan district.
The attack in Manis Lor village left 14 houses and two small Ahmadiyah mosques damaged, said the policeman, who gave his name as Haris.
Members of the sect responded by pelting with stones the attackers, four of whom were injured, Mr Haris said.
’The police are still on site, as well as a company of men from Brimob,’ the police paramilitary unit, he said, adding that the situation was under control.
No arrests had been made, he added.
The Koran Tempo newspaper said that the attack was briefly stopped when Brimob troops tried to disband the attackers by firing tear gas, but they managed to break through the cordon to vandalize the houses.
The Indonesian-language paper quoted a local leader, Maman Hermansyah, as saying that Ahmadiyah had agreed to no longer use their mosques.
’If they are still used, then the Islamic organisations are free to damage those houses of worship,’ Hermansyah reportedly said.
The Indonesian Council of Ulemas, the highest official authority on Islamic matters here, declared Ahmadiyah a ‘deviant’ sect in 2005 and banned its activities, sparking an upturn in harassment of members.
The government has not outlawed the group nationwide but local bans have been issued in several districts, including Kuningan in 2004, according to Yudhi, an official from the local administration.
’But as this concerns a religion, to act more firmly we need a legal base from the central government,’ Yudhi added, explaining the ban’s weak enforcement.
Around 200 members of Ahmadiyah were forced to move to temporary shelters on the island of Lombok, near Bali, after hardline Muslims attacked their homes and mosques early last year. – AFP