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July 29, 2010
Tense Standoff in W. Java as Police Close Ahmadiyah Mosques
Jakarta. After having failed on Monday to seal off mosques belonging to the Ahmadiyah sect in a village in Kuningan, West Java, police and public order officers followed through with the closures on Wednesday but met with strong resistance from sect members.
An attempt to shut down the mosques on Monday failed after hundreds of men from the local Ahmadiyah sect blocked police from carrying out the operation.
“This morning, we returned to seal the mosques and we were assisted by other security forces such as the Mobile Brigade [Brimob], and the Public Order Agency [Satpol PP],” Comr. S Priyono, from the Kuningan Police, said on Wednesday, adding that about 250 personnel had been deployed.
According to Priyono, who heads the police’s operations division, the district chief, Aang Hamid Suganda, had ordered that the eight Ahmadiyah mosques located in Manis Lor village be shut down.
Ahmadiyah is seen as a deviant sect by mainstream Muslims. The government has banned the group from holding its rituals in public but has stopped short of banning it altogether.
Its followers believe its founder, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, was a prophet of Islam, a claim that contradicts orthodox Muslim beliefs.
The police succeeded in sealing the mosques early on Wednesday morning, but Ahmadiyah followers soon closed ranks and some began throwing sticks and rocks at the security forces.
A scuffle ensued and tear gas was used to disperse the crowd.
“Our security officers are still guarding the sealed mosques,” Priyono said, adding that tensions remained high between the security officers and Ahmadiyah members.
The Setara Institute for Peace and Democracy recorded 33 cases of attacks against Ahmadiyah members last year.