01/21/2016, 18.30
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Kalimantan: Muslim village burnt, 1,200 forced to flee

by Mathias Hariyadi

The members of Gerakan Fajar Nusantara, a sect considered heretical by mainstream Islam, have been expelled from their homes. In 2007, the group’s founder was convicted for declaring himself the last prophet. As a result, the authorities have organised the relocation of the refugees to Java. "We must punish the movement’s false doctrine, but when its members are in danger, the state must intervene,” a government minister said.


Jakarta (AsiaNews) – At least 1,200 people, members of a Muslim sect called Gerakan Fajar Nusantara (Gafatar for short) were forced to flee their village after their neighbours set their homes on fire because of blasphemy charges. The incident occurred yesterday in Moton Panjang, Mempawah Regency, Kalimantan Province (Borneo).

A week ago, local mainstream Muslims protested against the presence in the area of “too many” members of the Gafatar sect, whom they consider heretics. When sect members refused to leave, scores of Muslims attacked the “blasphemers” and set their homes, forcing them to flee.

The Indonesian government immediately intervened to move the refugees to Java, their place of origin with several ships docked at the port of Pontianak, the capital of Kalimantan ready to take on refugees.

Last month, Gafatar made the front pages in the local press in connection with certain disappearances. A doctor from Yogyakarta (Java) had reported his wife and daughter missing. Both were found a few days later in a state of shock.

Gafatar came into existence in 2006 when a charismatic leader, Moshadeq Ahmad, proclaimed himself as the last prophet of Islam and founder of a new school of thought.

In October 2007, the Indonesian Ulema Council declared Moshadeq a "false prophet" and his teachings "illegal", banishing the Gafatar from the Islamic community.

Although the movement's leader was tried, convicted and sentenced to four years in prison for wrongful interpretation of Islam, many of his followers continue to operate as a distinct movement in various Indonesian locations, especially in Kalimantan, where they organise charitable activities and social events.

As soon as he was informed of the attack on the village, President Joko Widodo expressed his solidarity with the victims. He also ordered the Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security of Indonesia, Retired General Luhut Panjaitan, to deal with the emergency.

Cabinet Secretary Pramono Anung slammed local authorities in Menpawah for not acting in time to protect the population and made a distinction between Gafatar’s false teachings and its members.

Although the movement’s ideas may be anti-Islam, he said he would respond appropriately to protect its members. “Whenever people are in danger, the state must intervene to ensure their safety and protect life."

* Gerakan Fajar Nusantara means Dawn Archipelago Movement.

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