07/31/2010, 00.00
INDONESIA
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West Java, Ahmadi faithful targeted by Islamic extremists and local government

by Mathias Hariyadi
Three days of clashes between Ahmadi Muslims and Islamic extremists. The radical Muslims wish to close their mosques with support from local government. Head of the extremists: "The Ahmadiyya should be banned. Our demand to eliminate them is non-negotiable. "

Bandung (AsiaNews) - Tension remains high after three days of clashes between Islamic extremists and the Ahmadi community Manis Lor village, Kuningan district, West Java. On 26 July the police tried to close some mosques of the Ahmadi community. The police failed in their attempts following the massive protests of the faithful.

The next day another attempt was made by a group of 500 Islamic extremists, backed by state employees, who tried to close the mosques clashing with thousands of Ahmadi faithful armed with stones and sticks. The clashes ended yesterday and there are no victims.

The Ahmadis are Muslims who revere as a prophet, not only Muhammad, but Mirza Ghulam Ahmad. For this reason they are considered heretics and targeted by Islamic extremists. According to statistics, in 2009 33 attacks took place against the Ahmadis by extremists. In the first six months of 2010, the number of violence has dropped to four.

"Such problems should be approached with caution and tolerance," said Djoko Suyanto, Minister of Security and Political and Legal Affairs. The Minister, in a meeting with President Yudhoyono expressed regret for the number of injuries and damaged properties of the Ahmadi community.

Hesty Amirwulan, a member of the Indonesian Commission for Human Rights (Komnas Ham), said that the clashes are a sign of how the law has little force in the country. As Ifdal Kasim, the chairman of Komnas Ham, noted "closing places of worship is against the Constitution."

The Islamic extremists who attacked the Ahmadis are part of the Gapas (Movement against the illegal sects and non-believers). After asking the local administration to dissolve the sect, Andi Mulyono, head of Gapas, said: "The Ahmadiyya should be banned; our demand to eliminate them is non-negotiable."

Since 1954, 3 thousand Ahmadi Muslims are residents in Kunnigan district, the largest Ahmadi community in the country. Sujan Deden, executive director of the community, condemned the violence of extremists: "They have no legal basis for banning us."

In a press release, the Indonesian Interfaith Forum, said: "The presence of the Ahmadis should be respected by all parties in the country, including the government, since they have existed in Indonesia since 1950."

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