02/07/2006, 00.00
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Indonesia, arrests made for attack on the Ahmadiyah Community

Police detain 4 people.  The aggression dates to Saturday last : over 4 thousands Islamists burn the houses of the community of Muslims considered "heretics".

Jakarta (AsiaNews) – Indonesian police have arrested 4 people over the Saturday night attack against the Ahmadiyah community in the province of West Nusa Tenggara. On February 3rd about 4 thousand Muslims from neighbouring villages marched on the Ahamdiyah community in Geria, near Mataram, setting fire to their homes.  The police failed to stop ensuing violence; in all, 23 homes were burnt to the ground and 4 people were seriously injured.  About 200 Ahmadiyah, evacuated from the area, are now living in police barracks and local Welfare offices.   They are not allowed to meet with the press.  The local police spokesman says that 7 people were interrogated yesterday over the incident, 4 of whom have been detained as suspects.

The Ahmadiyah declare themselves to be Muslims, but are considered heretics, because they do not recognise Muhammad as the last Prophet; for this they are subjected to frequent persecution at the hands of  fundamentalists in many countries, among them Pakistan and Bangladesh. In Indonesia they count for 200 thousand of the population. 

Local sources say that recently Muslims in the area have been urging community members to "change" their faith and "convert to true Islam".  A series of negotiations took place in October but concluded without results.  The Ahmadiyah have consistently opposed any form of "conversion" and have refused to leave their homes.

In other inter religious disputes, for example at Belasi and Bandung, where Christians were targeted, police failed to intervene : the Muslims impeded Christian prayer meetings which they retained were taking place in illegal venues.

Yesterdays arrest in Mataram come after guarantees made by Indonesian  President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono that " the state insures freedom of religious practice to all of it's citizens". Saturday Susilo repeated that Indonesia does not adopt the concept of "unrecognized and recognized religions".

In 1980 the Indonesian Ulema Council officially declared that the Ahmadiyah were not recognised Muslims.

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