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Ahmadiyah sect members living in fear in Kuningan
Nana Rukmana, The Jakarta Post, Kuningan
The atmosphere in the predominantly Ahmadiyah Muslim Manis Lor village, Kuningan regency, was extremely quiet on Thursday, with only a couple of residents outdoors — the rest preferring to stay home.
An estimated 3,000 followers of the sect have been living in fear of violence and assault from residents of other villages who have long demanded the government ban the sect, calling on its members to return to the ‘true’ teaching of Islam.
Dozens of police have been on duty almost every day and conduct routine patrols around Manis Lor in anticipation of unexpected attacks.
Readiness Command chief Adj. Comr. Guntur, in charge of the security operation, said police had safeguarded the area since a joint ministerial decree was issued at the end of April, proposing to ban the sect.
“We are maintaining security around the clock to prevent the possibility of mob attacks against Ahmadiyah members, their assets and places of worship,” Guntur said.
Manis Lor Ahmadiyah assembly leader Abdul Syukur and sect elder Kulman Tisnaprawira were opposed to the proposal.
The government was responsible for the protection of citizens, Kulman said, who have adhered to and carried out their faith of choice.
“So, the government should not issue the ban because it runs contrary to the 1945 Constitution,” Kulman said.
Kulman wished to remind the government that Indonesia would progress further if it respects diversity in society and acknowledges religious freedom.
“Differences are a blessing … that’s why the state should recognize and protect people practicing their own religion,” Kulman said.
Local Ahmadiyah leader Abdul Syukur said the government should first amend the 1945 Constitution, if it is considering issuing the ban.
Asked whether Ahmadiyah followers would continue to practice in spite of the ban, Abdul Syukur said they would continue according to their faith.
“We will continue to practice our religion despite the ban. Worshiping God is our responsibility as Muslims,” he said.
The Manis Lor Ahmadiyah complex is currently equipped with a large mosque, seven musholla (smaller mosques), and an Islamic junior high school.
Kuningan regency administration, however, sealed these facilities on Dec. 13 last year.
The closure was based on a joint decision by the local administration, prosecutor’s office and police dated Dec. 20, 2004, which prohibited the Ahmadiyah sect from carrying out religious activities in Kuningan.
“We have been forced to pray in houses with large rooms because of the closure,” Syukur said.
“The controversy over the ban has not disturbed our religious or daily activities,” Syukur said on Thursday.
Dozens of sect followers in Bali and Lombok went to the Australian and German consulates in Denpasar, Bali, seeking asylum.
The Ahmadiyah complex in Manis Lor village is one of the biggest in the country. It spans 123 hectares and is inhabited by around 4,000 people, 3,000 of whom are Ahmadis.
Syukur reiterated that Ahmadiyah followers in Kuningan would not seek asylum overseas even if the government continued with its plan to issue the ban.
“I hope the government shelves its plan to issue the ban, but if it does, we won’t seek asylum. We will remain as Indonesian citizens,” he said.
Along with Sukabumi and Cimahi, Kuningan comes under a ban of the sect’s activities in West Java, although the central government has yet to decide whether or not the sect was heretical.