Indonesia sect fears more attacks
Three members of the Ahmadiyah, a minority sect, were slain by Islamic hard-liners in February. Ahmadis fear the attackers’ light sentences signal tacit government acceptance of religious violence.
|Nurhayati, a member of the Ahmadiyah, a minority Islamic sect, and her child are among those seeking refuge at a safe house in Banten, Indonesia. (Dita Alangkara, Associated Press / September 3, 2011)|
Arif Hakim recalls that deadly day in February when a thousand machete-wielding Islamic hard-liners descended upon his tiny congregation in rural West Java.
“I saw them coming, screaming that we were infidels and should be killed,” the 32-year-old welder said. “The police just watched and I panicked. I escaped and ran through the rice fields, but I could still hear the sounds of my friends being captured and [attacked].”
Three of Hakim’s fellow worshipers were killed in the melee. Their offense: They were members of a minority Islamic sect called Ahmadiyah, which has been under growing pressure by Islamic extremist groups.
The sect, which has adherents worldwide, is nonetheless banned in many Muslim countries because Ahmadis have divergent beliefs about the coming of the second messiah.
Across Indonesia, Ahmadiyah members have in recent years been the target of attacks, but the incident in the village of Cikeusik, West Java, stands out for both the level of violence and the fact that it was recorded on video.