Indonesian religious leaders decry attack on Muslim sect

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Religious leaders denounced the recent the violent eviction of hundreds of members of an illegal organization. On Jan. 19, a mob burned down nine houses belonging to members of the Fajar Nusantara Movement, known as Gafatar, in Moton Panjang village of Mempawah district in West Kalimantan province. Previously, local residents issued an ultimatum forcing all Gafatar members to leave the district


Following the incident, more than 700 members were evacuated from the region by police and military personnel to military barracks in the provincial capital of Pontianak.

“We lament such violent acts. The local residents took the law into their own hands,” Father Paulus Christian Siswantoko, secretary of the Indonesian bishops’ Commission for Justice, Peace and Pastoral for Migrant-Itinerant People, told ucanews.com on Jan. 21.

Father Siswantoko said local religious leaders need to educate their followers to respect members of other faiths.

“No need to have a hostile attitude toward a different group and to attack them. If there’s a problem, then resolve it in a peaceful way,” he said.

Din Syamsuddin, chairman of the Indonesian Ulema Council’s advisory board, said that such violent acts should not happen.

“I call on all people not to take the law into their own hands and not to act violently,” he said during a press conference on Jan. 20 in Central Jakarta.

Syamsuddin suggested that Islamic boarding schools should attempt to embrace Gafatar members so that they can rejoin the larger community.

According to Gafatar spokesman Wisnu Windani, members of the movement moved to West Kalimantan to engage in farming.

“We don’t bother anyone, let alone engage in terrorism. What have we done wrong?” he told The Jakarta Post Jan. 21.

Gafatar, which was formed in August 2011, is believed to be the transformation of Al-Qiyadah al-Islamiyah founded by Ahmad Mushaddeq.

Mushaddeq, who reportedly claimed to be a new prophet, was sentenced in 2008 to four years in jail for blasphemy.

In mid-January, Religious Affairs Minister Lukman Hakim Saifuddin said that Gafatar was an illegal organization that must not be followed, as its ideology wasn’t in accordance with Islam. Gafatar combines elements of Islam, Christianity and Judaism into one teaching.

He said the group had the potential to promote radicalism, according to The Jakarta Post.

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“I call on all people not to take the law into their own hands and not to act violently,” Din Syamsuddin, chairman of the Indonesian Ulema Council’s advisory board, in denouncing an attack on an illegal Muslim sect. (Photo by Ryan Dagur)

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