Jakarta residents forbid Ahmadis from holding Friday prayers

Ongoing battle between community and religious group continues
Jakarta residents forbid Ahmadis from holding Friday prayers

Local residents and Ahmadiyya Muslims square off over the closing of an Ahmadi mosque in South Jakarta. (Photo: Katharina R Lestari)

Local residents in South Jakarta, blocked dozens of Ahmadiyya Muslims from holding Friday prayers in their small An-Nur mosque following its closure by the local government.

Among those prevented from entering the sealed mosque on July 10 was Andang Budhi Satria, a member of the Legal Committee of the Indonesian Ahmadis. He became embroiled in a tense argument with a local residents' leader outside the mosque during the standoff.    

“They forbade us from holding religious activities. In fact, the right to worship is everyone's. The 1945 constitution says every citizen has the right to worship based on their own religion or faith,” he told ucanews.com.

At least 50 local officials and members of the municipality’s Public Order Agency sealed the mosque on July 8 by placing two red banners reading “This building is sealed [as] it isn’t accordance with its use.”

Prior to the closure, a week before the Islamic fasting month of Ramadan that began June 18, some local residents and members of the fundamentalist Islamic Defenders Front blocked the entrance to the mosque with a protest rally.

Community activist Zaitun Azhari said they rejected the Ahmadis because the group has been deemed heretical.

“There's no Ahmadis [living] here. We tried to tell them not to hold religious activities here, but they continued. [The protest] was the only way [to stop them],” she told ucanews.com.

She claimed that the building permit was for a house, not a place of worship.

However, Ahmadiyya spokesman Yendra Budiana said the mosque was built in the 1980s.

Jakarta Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama told reporters that he has ordered the mayor to reopen the mosque and promised to help Ahmadis secure permits to keep their mosque open.

“We respect all kinds of beliefs. So, if they pray and do not bother other people, we have to let them be,” The Jakarta Post quoted him as saying.

The Ahmadiyya community has long been the subject of persecution and discrimination. According to the Indonesian Ulema Council, the most prominent Islamic clerical organization in the country, their faith is “deviant” and their followers are considered heretics.

In 1980, the council issued a fatwa, or an Islamic edict, saying the Ahmadiyya group wasn't part of the Islamic faith and that its followers were infidels. During a national congress held in July 2005, the council renewed the fatwa, urging the government to ban and dismantle the community and freeze all its activities.

The council claims that the point of contention between the council and Ahmadis centers around the refusal of the community to acknowledge Muhammad as the last prophet of Islam.

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