As an attack on an Ahmadiyah community in Banten that left three dead was met with widespread condemnation, a spokesman on Sunday quoted President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono as merely “regretting” the incident.
Some 1,500 residents attacked 25 Ahmadiyah members who had refused to leave the house of a local group leader in Umbulan village, in the Cikeusik subdistrict of Pandeglang, at around 10 a.m. on Sunday, National Police Chief Gen. Timur Pradopo said.
Three members of the minority Muslim group were killed and six others injured in the attack.
“The president regrets that there were victims during the incident,” said Julian Aldrin Pasha, a spokesman for Yudhoyono. “Steps should be taken against those who violated the law.”
Julian said Yudhoyono had ordered Timur and Religious Affairs Minister Suryadharma Ali to go to Umbulan and also to explain the incident to the public.
“The government condemns whoever is behind violence against any Indonesian citizen,” said Djoko Suyanto, the coordinating minister for political, legal and security affairs.
Djoko promised a thorough investigation into the incident.
But he also called on the Ahmadiyah community to “respect the joint [ministerial] agreement signed in 2008,” referring to a decree banning the sect from worshiping in public and spreading its beliefs.
Condemnation of the attack came from political parties, social organizations and rights groups, including the House of Representatives faction of the National Awakening Party (PKB), the Ansor youth wing of Nahdlatul Ulama, the largest Islamic organization in the country, the Setara Institute for Democracy and Peace and the Wahid Institute.
The Wahid Institute said in a statement that it “strongly condemns” the attack, and that “this incident once again showed how security personnel failed to protect citizens.”
It called on Yudhoyono to take action. “Do not say in speeches that Indonesia protects religious freedom and then, when there are violations of religious freedom, stay silent and pretend like nothing happened,” it said.
The PKB House faction also “strongly condemned” the violence in a statement and lashed out at the assailants as “immoral human rights violators who acted contrary to the peaceful principle of Islamic teachings.”
It demanded that the attackers be arrested.
Setara urged the central government to take serious action following the attack. It also blamed the violence against the Ahmadiyah community on an edict issued by the Indonesian Council of Ulema (MUI) and on Suryadaharma, who has repeatedly voiced his desire to see the sect banned.
“The state should be firm, not weak, and not let any group or civilian militia disturb and disrupt the calm and peace,” Ansor chairman Nusron Wahid was quoted by Kompas online as saying.
Timur said the violence occurred as police were trying to get 25 people who had holed up in Ahmadiyah leader Ismail Suparman’s house to leave.
“We arrived and asked them to vacate the house but they refused. At the same time, some 1,500 villagers showed up and then the incident occurred,” he said. “I assure you that we shall really investigate this case.”
Malingping General Hospital told the Globe that all the victims had been stabbed and beaten by blunt objects.