On Monday, a group of villagers tried to completely close down an Islamic sect’s mosque in the district of Kuningan but faced tough resistance from the the sect’s followers. The sect in question is called Ahmadiyya and is often targeted by most Muslims because of its teachings that is controversial in mainstream Islam.
From Monday up to Friday, Ahmadis and numerous groups of “pure” Muslims have gathered on opposite sides in a very tense standoff. Beforehand, a few Ahmadiyya mosques were closed down in parts of the area, the anti-Ahmadiyya side blared insults at the Ahmadis and went into a violent frenzy of throwing objects and fists.
The 3,000 Ahmadis in the village refuse to respond violently even though the provocations are literally in their faces and the opposing side was much more smaller in numbers. “Even if we fought back, what would we gain? It would just give them an excuse to come back and come back and come back”, deplored a local. Today, the situation became violent when nearly 500 FPI (Islamic Defenders Front) members charged into the midst of the Ahmadi Muslims resulting in at least 110 injuries including three police officers.
Indonesian police have reported that the targeted mosque and its worshippers are secure for the time being after they dispersed the furious crowds.
Unfortunately for the hundreds of thousands of Ahmadis living in Indonesia, all of them are perceived as heretics and blasphemers of Islam. While Ahmadiyya followers believe in Allah like the rest of the Islamic world, they believe that their founder, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, proclaims to be the messiah. Understandably Muslims view this as heresy and often demonize Ahmadis.
Even more unfortunate for the Ahmadis is that very few people in the world do not know of their constant struggle to make a living in their own countries. Ahmadiyya followers are discriminated not only in Indonesia, but in Pakistan where conditions for Ahmadis are much more extreme.
Ahmadis face abominable social and religious discrimination along with a very limited education and list of options in life when compared to a regular Muslim’s life.
What is even more frightening for Ahmadi Muslims is that their governments are indifferent and dismissal to their suffering. There have been reports of the Pakistanian government actually approving of violence against Ahmadis while the supposedly ‘secular’ Indonesian government’s Islamic parties, which hold a tremendous amount of power, issued a fatwa, or religious edict, against the Ahmadi Muslims back in 2008 and have continued to support the current ban on public Ahmadiyya worshipping.
Many have criticized the Indonesian government’s lack of action regarding the discrimination of Ahmadis in the country. Others also dissaprove of Indonesia’s tolerance of extremist groups like the FPI which have racked up many casualties for the Ahmadi Muslim community. Many uphold that the Indonesian Constitution protects the freedom to worship and does not allow a place of worship to be sealed but the very opposite is practiced throughout many Indonesian districts today.