04/08/2013, 00.00
INDONESIA
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West Java: Islamic extremists and local authorities target Ahmadis

by Mathias Hariyadi
In Tasikmalaya Regency, hundreds of fundamentalists storm a school causing serious damage to the building. Before that, Bekasi authorities sealed off the al Misbaq mosque where a group of Ahmadis are holding out against its closure.

Jakarta (AsiaNews) - Extremist groups and local authorities in West Java province have again targeted the Ahmadi Muslim minority. Deemed heretical by mainstream Muslims, Ahmadis have had two of their facilities, a school and a mosque, shut down. In one case in Tasikmalaya Regency, hundreds of Islamic fundamentalists attacked yesterday a religious school, causing major damage to the building. Before that, the authorities in Bekasi, under pressure from fundamentalists, blocked the al Misbaq mosque in Jatibening sub-district.

Extremist groups took aim at the Ahmadi Islamic Boarding School in Tasikmalaya, a facility that teaches Islam to boys and girls. The boarding school (Pesantren in Indonesian) suffered heavy damage and the students are still in shock. During the attack, the angry mob called for the ouster of the school's teacher (guru), Ridwans, who runs the facility.

Under pressure from the Islamic Defender Front (FPI), the authorities in nearby Bekasi sealed off the al Misbaq Ahmadi mosque. According to protest leaders, the "heretical" Muslim sect must be expelled from the country because "its teachings are contrary to" the principles of the faith and the teachings of Mohammed.

Disregarding the authorities' decision, some 20 Ahmadis locked themselves inside the building last Thursday. The next day, at least 200 people, including Bekasi officials and police, started to seal off the building in accordance with a "fatwa" issued by a ministry in Jakarta saying that the religious minority does not reflect the "true principles "of the Islamic faith.

The Ahmadis, who follow sect founder Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, do not recognise Muhammad as the last prophet. They are therefore considered heretics by other Muslims.

The sect's persecution is one of the many signs that Indonesia is failing to protect religious minorities, including Christian communities that are also frequently the target of extremists.

So far, only three provinces have declared the Ahmadi sect lawful: Yogyakarta, Jakarta and Jambi. Most provinces have no position on the matter.

In some areas of West Java, including Bogor and Kuningan, violent acts against the Ahmadis, including raids and targeted attacks, have become commonplace.

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