Indonesia shuts down Ahmadiyah mosque

Indonesian authorities on Thursday shut down a mosque of the minority Muslim Ahmadiyah sect, in the latest sign of growing religious intolerance in the country.

Dozens of followers of the sect scuffled with officials putting up a fence around the Al-Misbah mosque on the outskirts of Jakarta to stop worshippers from using it, an AFP correspondent said.

"There is no freedom of religion in this country. May God give us strength to face this sad situation," said Rochim, a 65-year-old Ahmadiyah follower, as the mosque was closed off.

"If we cannot pray in our mosque, we will pray outside the mosque, even in the open air."

Local authorities said the mosque was closed to stop Ahmadiyah "practising their religious activity".

Followers of the sect, who believe their founder was the messiah after the Prophet Mohammed, are regarded as heretics and blasphemers by hardliners in Indonesia, have been increasingly targeted in recent years.

In a notorious 2011 case, a lynch mob clubbed, hacked and stoned three Ahmadiyah to death in western Java. The men convicted over the incident received only light prison sentences, provoking international outrage.

Human Rights Watch also warned in a report in February that attacks on minorities were growing across the religious spectrum, with Muslim sects, Christians and Buddhists all being targeted.

Ninety percent of Indonesia's 240 million people identify themselves as Muslim but the constitution guarantees freedom of religion and most practise a moderate form of Islam.