Governor's comment on Ahmadiya sect sparks outrage
Quoted as saying: "The problem will disappear if the belief disappears"
The governor of West Java has sparked outrage after he said the beliefs of the minority Ahmadiyah sect should be kept out of the province to help solve religious tensions there.
Governor Ahmad Heryawan said on Tuesday that he wanted to maintain peace in the country’s most densely populated province amid recent attacks but that Ahmadis had made this difficult by practicing their deviant beliefs. The minority sect does not believe that Mohammed was the final prophet of Islam.
“The problem will disappear if the [Ahmadi] belief disappears,” Heryawan was quoted as saying by Kompas.com.
The governor’s comments came after hardline Muslims attacked Ahmadi mosques and homes on Sunday in Cipakat and Tenjowaringin villages in Tasikmalaya in the latest violence against the sect in West Java in recent weeks.
“We are very disappointed,” Firdaus Mubarik, the spokesman for the Indonesian Ahmadiyah Congregation, said on Wednesday. “As a public figure, the governor’s statement threatens our future as a religious minority group.”
Eva Kusuma Sundari, a member of the House of Representatives, said that the governor’s remarks will increase hatred against the Ahmadis in a province which is 97 percent Sunni Muslim and already considered among the least tolerant of the minority sect.
“It shows that the governor doesn’t have a sense of crisis,” said Sundari.
Bonar Tigor Naipospos from the Institute for Democracy and Peace accused Heryawan of forging a political deal with the extremist Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) ahead of gubernatorial elections scheduled for February.
The deal would see Heryawan being required to stop all Ahmadi activities in West Java in exchange for political support from the FPI, a group which backs Sharia law and has been linked to some senior politicians, police and military.
Attacks against the Ahmadiyah started in Indonesia in 2002 and have since escalated, particularly in West Java and Aceh.
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