Just days after hard-line Islamic group members tore down the homes of an Ahmadiyah community in his province, West Java Governor Ahmad Heryawan said violence against the beleaguered minority group would stop if the religion disappeared.
"Of course we want religious tolerance to go properly but the Ahmadiyah have committed a violation by spreading a deviant belief. The problem will disappear if the belief disappears," Ahmad told Indonesian news portal Kompas.com on Tuesday.
Early on Saturday morning, a mob of 400 hard-liners attacked an Ahmadiyah community in Sukamaju village, Singaparna district, leaving dozens of houses in shambles. Some 60 police officers guarding the village were outnumbered and rendered powerless against the assailants.
The Ahmadiyah community has faced years of discrimination in Indonesia, where the sect’s branch of Islam has been named “deviant” by a prominent Islamic organization.
Last month, 30 Ahmadiyah members were sealed in the Al-Misbah mosque when the Bekasi government shuttered the building.
Religious intolerance is on the rise in Indonesia, where minorities find themselves targeted by members of an increasingly vocal hard-line fringe. In few places is intolerance more routine than West Java. In recent months, Christians and Ahmadiyah have found their houses of worship targeted by the government amid pressure from hard-line groups.
While he condemned the violence in Sukamaju, Ahmad said a joint decree signed by three ministers clearly stipulated that believers of "deviant" religions were not permitted to spread their teachings.
"But to bring Ahmadiyah back to Islam we should use a good way, we should not use violence," he said.