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Indonesia police to guard sect over Ramadan

Persecuted Ahmadiya community at risk of new attacks

Indonesia police to guard sect over Ramadan

Islamic Defenders Front members rally in Jakarta

Ryan Dagur, Jakarta

July 10, 2013

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Police in West Java have been dispatched to guard four Ahmadiya mosques in Bandung during the Islamic fasting month of Ramadan, amid fears of attacks from hardliners.

Among the mosques, located in Astana Anyar and Cibeunying Kaler sub-districts, is An Nasir, which was attacked by members of the hardline Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) last year.

Police will monitor the Ahmadiya community’s activities during Ramadan, which begins today. “We don’t want attacks on mosques to take place again,” the Deputy Chief of the Bandung City Police, Adj. Sr. Comr. Awal Chairuddin, told yesterday.

Ahmad Faizal Reza of the An Nasir mosque welcomed the police effort but said that many of the 9,000 community members remained worried.

“The last attacks we experienced were on Oct 25 2012 when we wanted to perform the Eid al-Adha prayer in our mosque,” he told today.

Some windows and doors were broken in the attacks, which began with FPI members forcing the Ahmadiya community to write a statement saying that they wouldn’t conduct any activities anymore. But the community refused to do so.

Attacks against the Ahmadiya -- deemed a heretical sect by many mainstream Muslims -- began in 2002, and have since escalated. Pressure on the government from religious conservatives has led to a ban on all activities, but Reza said the group still had a right to mark Ramadan.

“We are always reminded to conduct religious activities only in our own mosques,” he said.

In February 2011, footage emerged of police looking on as three people from an Ahmadiya family in West Java’s Banten province were beaten to death by hundreds of mainstream Muslims.

The ban on activities was introduced the following month, with the local governor claiming it was for their own safety.

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