Ahmadiyah mosque sealed by Ciamis regency ahead of Ramadhan
Discrimination: Members of Indonesian Ahmadiyah Congregation (JAI) pray on the verandah of the Nur Khilafat Mosque in Ciamis, West Java, on Thursday. Local authorities sealed the mosque and hung posters detailing the ban on JAI members using the mosque. (Courtesy of Perkumpulan 6211)
The Ciamis regency administration in West Java banned members of the Ahmadiyah community from undertaking religious activities at Nur Khilafat Mosque in Ciamis on Thursday morning, just a few days ahead of Ramadhan.Public Order Agency (Satpol PP) officers placed white banners on the door to the mosque that stated it was closed. The banners also said the action was authorized by a local consultative forum (Muspida) and the Ciamis administration.Regency officials said the ban was based on a joint ministerial decree signed by the religious affairs minister, the attorney general and the home minister and was aimed at the mosque’s followers and members and/or Indonesian Ahmadiyah Congregation (JAI) board members.The ban also mentioned West Java Gubernatorial Decree No. 12/2011 on the prohibition of JAI activities in West Java and a Ciamis gubernatorial circular dated March 18, 2011 that was issued based on the gubernatorial decree.The officials ordered the Ciamis chapter of JAI to stop all religious activities that deviated from basic Islamic teachings at the mosque. If JAI failed to heed the warning, regency officials would impose sanctions in accordance with existing law.Meanwhile, Ciamis JAI head Kamal Abdul Aziz expressed his objection against the ban.“Every closure must be accompanied by a report and a letter from the court. We believe the sealing carried out by regency officials is legally flawed and invalid,” said Kamal in an email to The Jakarta Post on Thursday. He added the Ciamis JAI committee would meet Ciamis Regent Iing Syam Arifin to question the ban. He said Ahmadiyah members would continue to pray in the mosque and ignore the closure. “Indonesia is an independent country, so it should not bow to pressure from any group and the government must implement the Constitution, which guarantees the freedom to worship all faiths,” said Kamal, referring to articles 28 and 29 of the 1945 Constitution. JAI cleric Syaeful Uyun said the Ciamis JAI did not breach the joint ministerial decree and gubernatorial decree. “We are not spreading teachings. The joint ministerial decree does not ban worship,” said Syaeful.Previously on Monday, around 300 people from the Islam Defenders Front (FPI) held a rally at the regency office and demanded that the Ciamis regent close the mosque. After holding a closed-door meeting with the rally’s coordinators, the regent reportedly held a speech at his office, saying his administration would take concrete steps regarding the people’s demand to ban JAI activities in Ciamis.West Java provincial administration spokesman Rudi Gandakusumah said his office had yet to receive information regarding the closure of the mosque. “I’ve not yet received the report, so I cannot comment. But based on existing regulations, I believe the ban was not arbitrarily imposed,” he told the Post over the phone.Commenting on the West Java gubernatorial decree used as a legal basis to seal the mosque, Rudi said the regional decree was issued based on the joint ministerial decree.