No Eid-ul-Adha for Ahmadi Muslims in Ban-dung, West Java – Eid-ul-Adha celebrations were tarnished by an attack launched by members of hard-line group the Islam Defenders Front (FPI) on An-Nasir Mosque, home to hundreds of Ahmadiyah followers who were later barred from performing Eid-ul-Adha prayers and slaughtering animals during the Islamic Day of Sacrifice on Friday (Eid-E-Qurban). “We were waiting for the cattle to be slaughtered when the FPI came,” Hendar, an Ahmadiyah adherent, said as quoted by Tempo.co. “In the beginning, they came in peace. But at 10:30 p.m. they became outraged and started destroying lamps and windows located on the first floor [of the mosque]. There were ten Ahmadis, including some women, inside the mosque.”
The Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) has been allowed to take the law into its own hands far too often. On the Eve of Eid-ul-Adha, dozens of members of the group known as FPI raided the Ahmadiyya Mosque on Thursday night, damaging it and prohibiting Ahmadis from celebrating Eid-ul-Adha in Astana Anyar, Bandung. Despite police intervention and efforts to diffuse the standoff, violence ensued. West Java Governor Ahmad Heryawan said that the vandalism was unjustified and that complaints against the mosque should be resolved through legal channels. The governor added that those who carried out the attack should be brought to justice. We could not agree more, but are pessimistic that it will happen. Reluctance by the police to arrest perpetrators of violence in the name of religion, and the lack of protection of the right for places of worship to operate, are key factors in the rise of religious intolerance in this country.
The country’s leaders, including President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, have spoken out against the rise of religious intolerance and have explained the need to uphold Pancasila, but their words have not been backed up by deeds among those tasked with upholding the law.
If the country is to be governed by democratic values, authorities must enforce the law fairly. Those who carry out violence, no matter what the motive, must be punished in accordance with the law.
Abdul Wahid Yora, an Ahmadi, said he and some other Ahmadis were at the mosque when 10 people arrived claiming to be local FPI members and entered the mosque.
Yora and his two fellow Ahmadis were later forced to sign an agreement not to hold Eid-ul-Adha prayers and slaughter sacrificial animals on the day. “I refused to do so because we have the right to perform the religious ritual,” Yora said, adding that the three of them were taken to the Astana Anyar Police precinct. At the police station, Yora claimed that they were still forced to sign the agreement.
The three of them were finally released on Friday morning, but when they returned to their mosque, they found the mosque’s entrance gate damaged and its glass windows broken. Ahmadi members decided to abort the Eid-ul-Adha prayer, the animal sacrificing ritual and the Friday prayer for security reasons, despite the fact that they received five cows and four goats to be slaughtered and handed out to families.
The representative of FPI Ban-dung Raya, Muhammad Asep Abdurahman alias Utep, said that breaking the mosque’s glass windows was a spontaneous action.
He said that the three Ahmadis, who were taken to the police, did not want to obey the West Java gubernatorial regulation banning Ahmadis from conducting public activities.
“I was angry. I went to the mosque and smashed its windows. My rage was triggered by the Ahmadis’ reaction,” said Utep.
West Java Police spokesman Sr. Comr. Martinus Sitompul said that his team had investigated the damage to the mosque. He said the police had gathered evidence and would seek other witnesses.
“We will question the FPI about this issue,” he said. Last year, West Java Governor Ahmad Heryawan issued Gubernatorial Regulation No. 12 banning Ahmadis from conducting any public activity.
Ahmad claimed that the regulation had reduced attacks against Ahmadis. Therefore, an evaluation of the regulation was unnecessary, he added.
However, Ahmad said that physical violence against Ahmadis or their property was not allowed under the law. “The law forbids physical attacks on anyone,” he said as quoted by Antara news agency. “If there are physical assaults uncovered in the last incident, I will let the police handle it,” he said.
In the last few years, demands to ban Ahmadiyah have increased in a number of regions across the country. The sect is dubbed heretical by some because it does not follow mainstream Islamic teachings.
The Peace loving, law abiding Ahmadis, internationally regarded, live by the motto “Love for All, Hatred for None,” and have no history of engaging in violence. Because Ahmadis do not fight back, they are an easy target for Muslim extremists who have been taught they will go to heaven if they murder someone who practices the Ahmadiyyat faith. There are millions of practicing Ahmadi Muslims worldwide, with established branches in 195 countries in North and South America, Europe, Asia, Africa and Australia. The Ahmadiyya Community was founded in 1889 by Hadrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, who believed in universal brotherhood, opposed violence as a means of advancing religion, and strongly rejected Bigotry, Hatred and all forms of terrorism. Ahmadis believe that everyone has the right to follow the religious philosophy they adhere to.
Regardless of faith or identity, we cannot remain deaf to their silent cries. People of Ahmadiyya Community are good, peaceful, law abiding and their faith like all religious believers – is a central part of their identity. It is firm hope that the international community recognizes its duty to protect the rights of all people to believe according to the dictates of their hearts, their minds and their consciences, and that the silent permission of persecution by the absence response, the attitude of indifference quickly comes to an end.