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Most Lombok Ahmadiyah Converted: Indonesian Official
Fitri | November 30, 2010
Mataram. Hundreds of members of the Ahmadiyah sect in the Central Lombok district of Lombok Island have returned to the fold of mainstream Islam, while only five families, or 21 people, remained followers of the faith, a local official said Monday.
Gabriel Mbulu, a member of the Central Lombok office of the Ministry for Religious Affairs, said that of the 500 Ahmadiyah followers once reported living in the district, only 21 remained part of the sect.
“From the 500, there are only 21 who do not want to return to Islam, besides those who left for Sulawesi. Hundreds have returned to true Islam,” Gabriel said.
The five families were still at a temporary shelter in the former general hospital in Praya after being driven from their homes, he added.
He said the Ministry also continued to call on people not to resort to violence when dealing with members of Ahmadiyah, a sect that is ostracized by mainstream Muslims because of their belief that their founder, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, is the Messiah.
He was referring to the violence that has repeatedly hit the Ahmadiyah community in Gerungan village in West Lombok since 2006, leading to hundreds of sect members seeking shelter in Mataram.
Nursalim, head of the Central Lombok Ahmadiyah group, speaking from the group’s shelter in Praya, said there were actually 31 people still at the shelter.
But he denied the claim that hundreds of Ahmadiyah members had reverted to mainstream Islam, saying that they simply became “inactive.”
“I have never heard of that,” he said of the claim of a mass conversion.
Nursalim said hundreds of Ahmadiyah members were forced to flee their homes in Central Lombok because of violence against them in 2006, about the same time their fellow Ahmadi were attacked in West Lombok.
He also said that, although the government initially provided relief aid for the Ahmadiyah refugees, the aid was halted without notice in 2007.
“Now we no longer even receive medicine,” he said.
But for Sionah, a mother of three who has been in the former hospital since 2006, nothing would make her convert from her faith.
“I remain confident as an Ahmadi, wherever I am,” Sonah said.
She said she had already been evicted from her home twice, first from her home in Sambielen in North Lombok amid violence against the sect in 2002.
She said she then moved to Praya in Central Lombok, but was forced to flee again during the attacks in 2006.
Ahmadiyah communities have been the target of attacks by hard-line Muslims in several regions, mostly in Lombok and West Java, in recent years.
Members of the sect also claim to face official discrimination, including difficulty obtaining jobs and processing official paperwork.
Ahmadiyah representatives have dismissed claims by their mainstream Muslim opponents that the group does not believe Muhammad was the last prophet and does not consider the Koran its holy book.