Jakarta. A Saudi-born cleric was stabbed by a man while delivering a sermon in Lampung Province in the southern Sumatra Island on Sunday. Police said the injury was not life-threatening.
Ali Jaber, who was awarded Indonesian citizenship in January, was sitting on the stage when suddenly an unidentified man in a blue shirt ran toward him and swung a knife.
An amateur video captured the moment at Falahuddin Mosque in the provincial capital Bandar Lampung at around 4.30 p.m.
The video shows participants of the sermon immediately overwhelmed the attacker. Ali was able to walk on his feet and even tried to calm the angry mob before leaving the stage.
People were heard interrogating the attacker, who couldn’t answer clearly with his bleeding mouth.
The attack injured Ali’s upper arm but he was okay, Lampung Police spokesman Chief Comr. Zahwani Arsyad said.
Details about the attacker have not come out as investigation is underway.
“The first thing we did was rescue the preacher to a nearby hospital. The attacker has been arrested and then we conducted crime scene investigation and questioned witnesses,” the officer was quoted by news website Detik as saying.
The preacher himself immediately confirmed on his YouTube account that he was fine.
“It’s a new experience for me, after spending 12 years in Indonesia appealing for the people to promote unity, peace and prosperity,” Ali said while laying on a hospital bed with a bandage wrapped around his right arm.
“A man came to me but Allah saved my life.”
He said that during the attack he raised his arm in a reflex action and that proved decisive to avoid more serious injury in his vital organs.
“The swing was quite strong, half of the knife went deep into my arm,” he said.
The knife went so deep into his arm that he broke it in his attempt to pull it out, he said in the YouTube video.
Ali, who was born in Medina, is known as a moderate Muslim preacher who has recently helped the government in public health campaign related to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The case drew reaction from chief security minister Mahfud M.D., who demanded thorough investigation by the police.
"Law enforcement agencies in Lampung must immediately reveal the identity of the attacker and the alleged motive for the attack,” Mahfud said in Jakarta.
He praised Ali as a government partner in spreading positive values among the people.
"As far as I’m concerned, he has helped the Covid-19 Task Force and the BNPB [National Disaster Mitigation Agency] by encouraging Muslims to perform prayers at home in the wake of the pandemic. Syech Ali Jaber is a cleric who actively supports the government,” Mahfud said.
It was the second knife attack on a public figure in less than a year.
In October last year, a man attacked then chief security minister Wiranto in the Banten district of Pandeglang. The minister was injured in the abdomen and had to undergo surgery.
Authorities blamed the attack on shadowy terror group Jemaah Ansharut Daulah.