Residents, FPI raid Ahmadiyah members

Jakarta, Indonesia - South Jakarta police secured six Ahmadiyah followers inside Tebet police station on Friday after a group of residents, some of them claiming to be the members of the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI), raided a house where Ahmadis routinely conduct religious activities, which the Islamic mainstream deems heretical.

South Jakarta police chief Sr. Comr. Gatot Edy Pramono said the raid took place right after a dozen of Ahmadiyah members held Friday prayers in the house located in Bukit Duri Tanjakan subdistrict.

Dozens of people, who had been gathering outside, started arguing the Ahmadis’ beliefs when they left the house.

“As the argument heated up, several Tebet police officers arrived and immediately took the Ahmadiyah members to the station to prevent a possible brawl,” Gatot told The Jakarta Post Friday.

Salim Alatas, a deputy head of the FPI Jakarta chapter, admitted the hard-line group had initiated the raid. He said FPI would demand the police detain the Ahmadis for violating the joint ministerial decree on religious blasphemy.

“They claimed to be Muslims but later they admitted that they were members of Ahmadiyah after we questioned them over their prophet and holy book,” he said.

Several Ahmadiyah followers managed to escape the raid, Salim added.

Former religious affairs minister Maftuh Basyuni, home minister Mardiyanto and Attorney General Hendarman Supandji signed in June, 2008, a joint decree which prohibits followers of Ahmadiyah from spreading their beliefs. The decree, however, stops short of banning the Islamic sect.

The decree also orders the 200,000 Ahmadiyah followers across the country to turn to the beliefs of "mainstream Islam".

For years, Ahmadis have endured attacks from various Muslim groups. In some cases the groups have burned down Ahmadiyah mosques and houses.

The Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) officially declared Ahmadiyah heretical in 2005 as it recognizes sect founder Mirza Ghulam Ahmad as the last prophet rather than Prophet Muhammad.

Domestic and international human rights groups alike have criticized the government for failing to protect followers of Ahmadiyah and promote religious freedom in the secular country, which is apparently guaranteed by the Constitution.

Responding to Friday’s incident, Ahmadiyah spokesman Syamsir Ali said he did not see that Ahmadiyah needed to do anything in response to the attacks.

“Such incidents have become daily experience for Ahmadiyah followers,” he said.

“We will maintain our beliefs and let other people believe what they believe. There is no reason for us to provoke them.”