Responding to last week’s ransacking of an Ahmadiyah mosque, Indonesian authorities warn that violence will not be tolerated.
Government officials are promising a thorough investigation and legal action after a mob attacked and ransacked a mosque used by the minority Ahmadiyah sect just before Friday prayers (April 20th)
Co-ordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs Djoko Suyanto said West Java police were handling the case and that legal action would be taken against those responsible.
“Violence is not allowed. Whoever did this will be dealt with,” Djoko told reporters outside the State Palace in Jakarta on Friday, according to a Kompas report.
Separately, Home Minister Gamawan Fauzi ordered local police to thoroughly investigate the attack.
At least 80 people broke into the Baitul Rahim Mosque in the Singaparna subdistrict of Tasikmalaya, West Java, about 260 km southeast of Jakarta. They damaged the roof, broke windows, and burned the carpet and prayer mats, police said.
No one was reported injured in the attack, which took place around 10 am on Friday and lasted 20 minutes.
Firdaus Mubarik, an Indonesia Ahmadiyah Congregation (JAI) spokesman, told Khabar Southeast Asia, that the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) carried out the attack.
“This is actually not the first attack that happened to Ahmadiyah Mosque in Singaparna because they also did it on April 12th,” Firdaus said.”The attack began when they handed a letter of objection regarding use of the mosque,” he said.
Although Muslim-majority Indonesia is a secular country where freedom of religion is protected under the constitution, some religious minorities in recent years have been targeted by hardline Islamist groups.
Such groups say the Ahmadiyah sect, which follows the teachings of a 19th century religious figure from India, should be banned. Regional governments have placed restrictions on the sect, and the central government in 2008 issued a decree restricting Ahmadis from spreading their beliefs.
A spokesman for the West Java Police, Senior Commander Martinus Sitompul, denied allegations by the JAI that the local authorities failed to step in.
“It is not true we let it happen without any prevention,” he told Khabar. “As a notification [of plans to deliver the letter] had been given to us, we deployed our officers to prevent any violence that might occur. But during the handing of the letter, [the] Ahmadis said something which was provocative and we tried to prevent the violence which occurred,” he said.
Awid Mashuri, deputy secretary general of the FPI, denied the group’s involvement amid reports some mob members were carrying FPI flags or dressed in the group’s trademark white and green.
“It was Singaparna neighbouring residents that attacked the Ahmadiyah mosque. It is because the Ahmadiyah congregation has broken the agreement for not holding any activities anymore in their mosque,” he told Khabar.
“If there were FPI accessories worn by any of the mob, it does not mean that they are FPI members because they might just buy accessories from the shop,” he said.
If FPI involvement is proven, the group could be banned, because it has already been warned twice over use of violence, Home Minister Gamawan said.
“Another [incident of] big-scale violence by the FPI would meant that the organisation is eligible to be frozen,” The Jakarta Post quoted him as saying.