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Yudhoyono: Punish Banten Officials Guilty of Negligence
Armando Siahaan, Amir Tejo, Dessy Sagita & Heru Andriyanto | February 07, 2011
Aminah has a police guard as she surveys the house where her son was killed on Sunday. (AFP Photo/Nurani Nuutong)
President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono on Monday ordered a probe into the deadly attack on the Ahmadiyah community in Banten, including into negligence by local law enforcers and officials.
“I have ordered a full investigation, to find out the real cause and occurrence,” the president said.
“The purpose is that those who were negligent, guilty and violated the law must be punished.”
Violators could have come from both sides in the conflict, he said, but the probe should look specifically into whether there was negligence on the part of state authorities at the time of the attack.
“This includes if the clash could have actually been prevented, but prevention was done ineffectively, whether by the security apparatus or the local government,” he said.
“If this is this case, they need to be punished.”
His words came as one of his ministers said the sect deserved better protection, but another suggested followers could help themselves by detaching their beliefs from Islam.
Yudhoyono called on law enforcers and local military commands to be more proactive, professional and firm in preventing violence and taking action against those involved in attacks.
“I want all parties not to be lax, not to take this situation lightly,” he said.
“If there are signs [of conflict], take the appropriate measures, don’t wait until a clash and conflict erupt.”
Yudhoyono said he regretted the incident and offered his condolences to the victims’ families, but also hinted that the government would not revoke the 2008 joint ministerial decree on the Ahmadiyah, which he referred to as “the best option to solve the problem and to avoid horizontal conflicts.”
The decree prohibits Ahmadis from worshiping in public and from spreading their teachings but stops short of a ban on the sect.
“If the agreement was reached, embraced, abided to and implemented, then the conflicts, the physical clashes, the acts of violence could have been prevented,” he said.
Separately, Djoko Suyanto, coordinating minister for political, legal and security affairs, said on Monday that Ahmadiyah followers deserved to be protected like all Indonesians.
“They are our citizens, citizens of Indonesia whose safety is guaranteed and protected,” he said at the State Palace.
But he admitted that a solution for the sect’s troubles would not be easy to find.
“It is an issue of faith, belief, it is not easy to change someone’s mind-set,” he said, adding it was vital for law enforcers and communities to detect signs of conflict to prevent escalation.
Meanwhile, Religious Affairs Minister Suryadharma Ali said that to avoid animosity against the Ahmadiyah community, one option was for the sect to detach itself from Islam.
“Ahmadis can be asked to let go of their identity as part of Islam,” he said in Surabaya.
But he added he believed Ahmadis would refuse to leave Islam.
An Ahmadiyah spokesman, Firdaus Mubarik, told the Jakarta Globe that the solution offered by Suryadharma would not solve any problem as “belief is a very private matter.”
A similar solution imposed in Pakistan, he said, had only increased the number of victimized Ahmadis.