Move against Islamic sect shows unwillingness by Indonesian society to tackle intolerance, he says
Public Order Agency officials close the Al-Furqan mosque belonging to Ahmadiyya Muslims in Sukabumi district, West Java. (Photos courtesy of the Association of Journalists for Diversity)
A Catholic Church official in Indonesia has criticized the forced closure of a Muslim mosque belonging to the Ahmadiyya growing community, saying the move highlights a growing unwillingness by the majority in society to fight intolerance from the few.
The 41-year-old Al-Furqan mosque in Sukabumi district, West Java province was closed on July 26 forcing about 200 members of the community to pray in a nearby school.
"The closure of the mosque violates the Ahmadis’ right to worship," Father Agustinus Ulahayanan, secretary of the Commission for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs of the Indonesian bishops’ conference, told ucanews.com referring to Indonesia’s secular constitution.
It "shows a crisis in the values of tolerance and plurality," he said.
The Ahmadiyya sect is a branch of Islam whose followers believe that Mohammed was not the final prophet.
Mainstream Muslims see this as heresy, which has resulted in Ahmadis being subject to various forms of persecution by hardliners in the Muslim world, including Indonesia which has seen protests against them, mosque burnings and murders in recent years.
Father Ulahayanan claimed that the number of hardliners in the country "is actually small."
"The problem is that tolerant people form the majority group which chooses to be silent," he said.
Hanif, a mosque official who like many Indonesians uses only one name said the closure was sudden and came without any notification.
He said the community agreed not to fight against the closure because "we wanted to prevent any possible conflicts."
He admitted the mosque didn’t have a building permit.
"We have tried to obtain one. But perhaps there’s a resistance from people who don’t understand what Ahmadiyya is about," he said.
Dadang Eka Widianto, a Public Order Agency official, said the mosque was closed in the interests of safety.
Citing local opposition to the mosque he said the closure was carried out "to prevent any potential conflicts in society," according to local news portal antaranews.com.
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