Ahmadiyah mosque burned as protests grow

A group calling itself the Jamaah Al Mubalighin Communication Forum burned down a mosque belonging to the “deviant” Ahmadiyah sect in Parakan Salak village in Sukabumi regency, West Java, early Monday.

Sukabumi Police chief Adj. Sr. Comr. Gunthor Ghafar told The Jakarta Post the incident began when the forum members met Sunday for a Koran reading session at At-Taqwa Mosque, about 700 meters from Ahmadiyah’s Al Furqon Mosque.

The forum members then issued a five-point ultimatum to the Ahmadiyah members, including a demand they “return to Islam” and take down the Ahmadiyah sign from Al Furqon Mosque.

Head of Ahmadiyah in Sukabumi, Asep, told the forum members they needed time to discuss the ultimatum.

The two sides then held a meeting around 7 p.m. on Sunday. During the meeting, Ahmadiyah agreed to remove its sign from the mosque, with the promise that the forum members would not vandalize Ahmadiyah property.

However, forum members attacked the mosque and burned it down shortly after midnight.

Earlier this month a government team — the Coordinating Board for Monitoring Mystical Beliefs in Society (Bakor Pakem) — recommended the Ahmadiyah sect be banned because its doctrines deviate from the teachings of Islam.

An Ahmadiyah spokesman told reporters in Jakarta the board’s recommendation to ban the group on the grounds that it is heretical had led to an increase in attacks on its mosques.

“The recommendation has caused an escalation in the destruction of mosques run by Ahmadiyah across Indonesia,” the spokesman, Shamsir Ali, said as quoted by Reuters.

A policeman guarding the Sukabumi mosque was reported to have been hurt in the attack and police questioned eight people in connection with the incident. The National Police later announced two men had been named as suspects.

“We are still investigating this case. We are still discussing the case with the (Sukabumi) prosecutor’s office and military command,” said Gunthor.

Asep demanded the police provide protection for the some 3,000 sect members in the regency. He also hoped police could catch and punish those responsible for the attack on the mosque.

In Mataram, West Nusa Tenggara, Ahmadiyah followers, who have been accommodated at the city’s Transito building for months after being evicted from their homes, read their creed at the shelter’s mosque.

The reading of the creed was intended to show the public that their beliefs are the same as other Muslims.

“Herewith I swear in the name of Allah and Rasulullah (the Prophet Muhammad) that we have no other God other than Allah, no religion other than Islam and no last prophet other than Muhammad …,” M. Syaiful Uyun, an Ahmadiyah official in West Nusa Tenggara, said in leading the other members.

The members hoped their demonstration would counter claims the group was heretical and deserving of a ban.

“Bakor Pakem’s recommendation is not based on facts and is blasphemous,” said one Ahmadiyah member who asked not to be identified.

The members urged the government not to issue a joint decree banning Ahmadiyah, which they said would violate the Constitution, the laws of the country and human rights. (The Jakarta Post)

Rise in global food prices a blessing for Indonesia: President

Wahyoe Boediwardhana ,  The Jakarta Post ,  Pasuruan, East Java   |  Mon, 04/28/2008 11:42 AM  |  Headlines

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono told the Nahdatul Ulama youth wing Ansor on Sunday that Indonesia could benefit from the rise in global food prices.

“In my spiritual contemplation a few days back with friends in Yogyakarta, I arrived at a conclusion that the surge in staple food prices is actually a blessing instead of a disaster,” the President said during a ceremony to mark the 74th anniversary of Ansor in Pasuruan, East Java.

Nahdatul Ulama is the largest Muslim group in the country with ties to the National Awakening Party (PKB) and former president Abdurrahman “Gus Dur” Wahid.

Many countries with limited land and natural resources, he said, are suffering from food price inflation, but not Indonesia, as long as we can maintain and improve our agriculture and farming industries, particularly those producing rice, corn, soybeans, sugar, beef, chicken and eggs.

“God willing, (the food price inflation) will be a blessing. Therefore, I urge all members of Ansor to join the government in the effort to increase our food production from now on and ahead,” he said.

This year, he said, East Java was likely to enjoy surplus rice production of three million tons, a significant improvement from three years ago when many doubted the country could regain rice self-sufficiency.

“Last year’s production already met demand. This year, if nothing extraordinary happens, we will enjoy a rice production surplus,” he said, adding that lessons from the rice industry should be implemented in other food-producing industries.

Last week, the government raised the benchmark price for rice purchases by state logistics agency Bulog in order to increase farmers’ incomes and discourage the smuggling of the cereal by addressing the price disparity for rice in Indonesia with that in neighboring countries.

The price of unhusked paddy delivered to Bulog now stands at Rp 2,600 (28 US cents) a kilogram, while stored rice is sold at Rp 4,300.

Rice prices in the Chicago market last week reached a record high at US$1,000 per ton or about Rp 9,200 per kg

To secure domestic supplies, the government also has issued a regulation appointing Bulog as the sole exporter of rice and setting a minimum three million tons annual rice production surplus as a prerequisite for exports.

So far, Bulog has absorbed a total of 1.4 million tons of rice, and is aiming for 2.43 million tons by the end of the year as the country’s total rice production is projected to grow by 5 percent from 33 million tons last year.

Commenting on the surge in oil prices, President Yudhoyono said the country needed to examine where it stood on the situation.

“A smart nation is a nation that is able to take a lesson and a blessing from the crude oil price increases. We have to increase our oil production while seeking other alternative sources of energy,” he said.  (The Jakarta Post)