Yuli Krisna & Ulma Haryanto | February 18, 2012
Cianjur, West Java. A mob of about 50 people attacked and vandalized a mosque on Friday that was being used by the beleaguered Ahmadiyah sect.
West Java Police Chief Martinus Sitompul said the attackers, residents of neighboring Cisaar village, wrecked the roof, broke the windows and generally ransacked the mosque, leaving it in shambles.
The attacker, he said, were angry that the Indonesia Ahmadiyah Congregation (JAI) was still using Arrohim Mosque in Cipeuyeum village.
“The people already warned the mosque caretakers about [Ahmadiyah] using it and there was a joint agreement that they could not use the mosque,” Martinus said. “But they continued to conduct their activities and Friday prayers there.”
Local police are now guarding the crime scene and investigating the incident, he added.
JAI spokesman Firdaus Mubarik said it wasn’t the first time something like this had happened in the village.
“The mosque in Cipeuyeum was the target of a similar attack last year when its books and carpets were burned by neighboring residents,” he said.
Just like last year, Firdaus said, the police knew about the attack before it occurred yet did nothing to prevent it from taking place.
“The police warned our congregation on Thursday not to use the mosque for Friday prayers, which means that they knew about it,” he said.
Chep Hermawan, chairman of the Islamist Reformist Movement (Garis), which is known to try to persuade Ahmadiyah members to abandon their beliefs for mainstream Islam, said he regretted the violence and denied his group’s involvement.
“We weren’t aware of it, let alone involved in it,” he said
Chep speculated that someone was trying to take advantage of the growing calls for the disbandment of the hard-line Islamic Defenders Front (FPI).
“This could be intended to taint the FPI’s name and the image of Muslim people,” he said.
After last year’s brutal attack on a group of Ahmadiyah in Cikeusik, Banten, which left six people dead, the Ahmadiyah community in Cianjur voiced fears they would be next.
But Firdaus said he did not believe Friday’s attack would lead to a string of bigger incidents.
“The momentum is not there. Last year the campaigns against us were massive, from [Religious Affairs Minister] Suryadharma Ali to hard-line organizations actively campaigning for us to be disbanded in different places,” he said.
Friday’s attack came just days after President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said that religious harmony was being protected in Indonesia and that Ahmadis were free to worship as they saw fit, as long as they did not offend other Muslims.
Ismail Hasani, a researcher at the Setara Institute for Democracy and Peace, agreed that while the incident demonstrated the government’s continued failure to protect the religious rights of Ahmadis, it probably wouldn’t lead to something worse.
“The political situation right now is against hard-line organizations,” he said.