City seals off Ahmadiyah mosque in East Jakarta

Jakarta Post, Indonesia
CITYFri, 11/18/2011 10:41 AM
The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

East Jakarta officials sealed off a mosque belonging to a group of Ahmadiyah followers in Duren Sawit on Thursday, saying that the place of worship violated zoning regulations.

Officials from the East Jakarta Building Supervisory Agency (P2B), accompanied by public order officers, closed down At-Taqwa mosque after claiming that the owners of the premises had misused the building permit issued for the premises.

In the eviction notice, the P2B said that a building permit had been issued for a private residence, but owners had used the premises as a house of worship. The agency claimed that three warning letters had been issued before the eviction.

The head of the East Jakarta branch of the Ahmadiyah, Aryudi Muhammad Shadiq, said the management of the mosque was fully aware of the building violation.

“We have been trying to convert the building permit from that for a private residence to one for a public building, but to no avail,” he told The Jakarta Post on Thursday.

Aryudi said that bureaucratic red tape had hampered the congregation in obtaining a new building permit. “We spent six months on completing all the required documents. But we didn’t get it,” he said.

He suspected that officials of the B2P had intentionally thwarted their efforts to get a new permit.

“We feel like the city administration doesn’t support our efforts to get a new permit for the mosque,” he said.

Aryudi also questioned the city administration’s decision to seal off the mosque after allowing it to remain open for the past 21 years. “Why now and not years ago? We have never caused problems in the community,” Aryudi said.

Since the founding of the mosque in 1990, members of the Ahmadi congregation have performed their rituals in peace and locals had never lodged any complaints.

A local Ahmadi cleric living in Duren Sawit, Muhammad Diantono, said the Ahmadi community had been in the area since 1967. “They are all locals who have lived in the area for years. They have become part of the community,” he said.

Diantono said that Ahmadis in the area had voluntarily reduced the time they spent on rituals in the mosque even though the East Jakarta administration had made no move to restrict their freedom.

Lately, At-Taqwa had held daily prayers only. Previously, the management of the mosque held a weekly sermon and Koran recitation for its 300 members.

“Ahmadis in several areas may deal with tighter local regulations, but we have been fine here. Yet, we decided to reduce the time we spent at the mosque to prevent possible conflict,” he said.

An East Jakarta Islam Defenders Front (FPI) member, Subhan Amir, said that it was still possible that conflict in the area could result from Ahmadis conducting their rituals at the mosque.

“The mosque is a dangerous place for people living nearby because the Ahmadis can be a bad influence. And now locals have realized how dangerous their beliefs are,” he said.

Subhan said the FPI supported the B2P’s decision to shut down the mosque.

“We will keep an eye on the mosque and if we find that the Ahmadis are still conducting their rituals, we will file a report with the city administration,” said Subhan. (lfr)

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