Muslim cleric Syekh Ali Jaber is seen here at a local hospital after he was stabbed by a man while giving a sermon in Lampung, Sumatra, on Sept. 13. (Photo: YouTube screenshot)
A man has been charged with attempted murder after stabbing a Saudi-born Muslim cleric at a religious event in Indonesia.
Alfin Andrian was arrested soon after stabbing 44-year-old cleric Syekh Ali Jaber while giving a sermon on Sept. 13 at a mosque in Bandar Lampung city in Lampung province.
Awi Setiyono, national police spokesman, said the 27-year-old attacker stabbed Jaber in the shoulder then attempted to stab the cleric again before being restrained by worshippers.
Jaber, who was born in Medina, Saudi Arabia, and granted Indonesian citizenship in 2012, was not seriously injured.
“The knife was stuck in my shoulder. I pulled it out myself,” the Jakarta Post later quoted Jaber as saying.Police said the motive for the attack remained unclear as there were no signs Andrian was suffering from mental illness despite claims from his family he was mentally unstable.
Footage of the incident later went viral on social media, drawing widespread condemnation.
Political, Legal and Security Affairs Minister Muhammad Mahfud, who met the cleric after the attack, instructed the State Intelligence Agency and the National Counterterrorism Agency to investigate the attack.
All religious figures must be protected, especially when leading prayers, he said.
Petrus Selestinus, a Catholic lawyer and democracy activist, said the public need to be reassured that public figures including religious leaders are protected.
A possible link to extremist groups must be investigated, he said. Selestinus pointed to the stabbing in October last year of then security minister Wiranto in Banten province by a man linked to a terror group.
The attack on Jaber is the latest targeting religious leaders.
Two Muslim clerics were attacked in West and East Java respectively in early 2018, while a Catholic priest and three parishioners were attacked during Sunday Mass in Sleman, Yogyakarta, in February 2018 by a perpetrator linked to radical groups.