Ahmadiyah Board Up Their Mosque in East Java
By Camelia Pasandaran, The Jakarta Globe:
Police and residents in Tulungagung, East Java, allegedly forced a member of an Ahmadiyah community to board up his mosque in order to create the illusion of a voluntary closure, a local religious leader said on Tuesday.
Aminullah, who heads the Ahmadiyah Kediri branch overseeing the beleaguered Baitul Salam mosque in Gempolan village, told the Jakarta Globe on Tuesday that Japar, member of Ahmadiyah community, was pressured to put a sealing board in front of the only Ahmadiyah mosque in Tulungagung district on Monday.
“I told Japar not to agree with the request to shut down the mosque,” Aminullah said. “Japar said that he was forced to seal the mosque himself. The media took his picture when he put the sealing board on, creating a wrong impression that the Ahmadis agreed with it.”
Japar said that hundreds of police officers were waiting in front of his house to intimidate him into closing the mosque, according to Aminullah.
“No one will shut down their own houses of worship without reason. Japar, who lives near the mosque, has to deal with the police officers, his relatives, his neighbors and others who forced him to seal the mosque,” Aminullah said.
“The police officers told him to shut down the mosque himself for the sake of security. At the beginning, he disagreed, but then he was intimidated with the presence of police officers in front of his house. He could not do anything freely with their presence.”
Japar did not say many words when asked by journalists about the mosque closure. “I shut down this mosque for good,” he said.
Antara news agency reported that the Tulungagung chapter of the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) and local residents were happy that the mosque was closed.
“Don’t wrongly spread the news, the closure was done by an Ahmadiyah member, not by residents [of the village],” MUI Tulungagung secretary Abu Sofyan told Antara. “This mosque has been sealed by the owners, as [Japar] placed the sealing board and barrier on the mosque’s main door.”
Gempolan village chief Lamini also welcomed the decision. He said that the village would be more peaceful because of the mosque closure.
Prior to the mosque closure, a mob of more than 100 people, mostly youths from Gempolan and neighboring areas, hurled rocks at the mosque last Thursday, causing extensive damage to the building that was built in 2007. Ahmadiyah members agreed not to file lawsuit against the attackers.