Footage of deadly mob attack emerges
By Arlina Arshad
February 07, 2011 8:57PM
DISTURBING video has emerged of a bloody religious mob attack in Indonesia that killed three members of a minority Muslim sect, showing extremists beating and stoning their victims to death.
The incident, involving more than 1000 Muslims who stormed a house in West Java yesterday to stop the minority Ahmadiyah Islamic sect from holding worship, has been condemned by the government and rights activists.
Footage of the attack - which came at the start of "interfaith harmony week" in the mainly Muslim country - shows police doing nothing as scores of Islamic fanatics go berserk with stones, knives and sticks.
Shouting "Allahu Akbar" (God is Greatest) and "kafir" (infidel), the mob brush aside a lone police officer and launch a sustained attack on the house, as a small group of Ahmadis try briefly to defend the property.
Defenceless and half-naked Ahmadi men are then shown being beaten and stoned to death in the mud outside the house. Their bodies are pelted with stones and desecrated as members of the mob laugh and take pictures.
Throughout the attack police are either absent or standing amid the mob doing nothing to intervene, with the exception of a lone police officer, who is seen attempting to stop people beating and stoning one of the dead men, but he is ignored.
National police spokesman Boy Rafli Amar said eight people are being questioned in relation to the violence but no one had been charged.
President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has instructed police to capture the perpetrators and "haul them to court if need be", his senior adviser, Daniel Sparingga, said.
"The president is deeply concerned and condemned the violence and said that the country must be firm in defending the constitution, that would never allow small groups to use religion to attack groups of different faiths," he said.
Ahmadiyah spokesman Zafrullah Ahmad Pontoh said the mob committed murder and appealed to the government for protection. Similar appeals have been ignored in the past.
"We're saddened because innocent people were killed. The mob committed murder and Islam never taught people to attack and kill," he said.
"We hope the government can provide us with protection so we can practise our faith in peace."
Indonesia's constitution explicitly guarantees freedom of religion and the country of some 240 million people, 80 per cent of whom are Muslim, has ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
But a government decree adopted in 2008 under pressure from Islamic conservatives bans the Ahmadiyah sect from spreading its faith, which includes the belief that its founder, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, was the final Muslim prophet.
Orthodox Muslims hold that Mohammed was the last prophet of Islam.
The group, which claims hundreds of thousands of members in Indonesia and millions in South Asia, has been repeatedly targeted with violence by Islamic extremist organisations.
National Human Rights Commission chairman Ifdhal Kasim said the incident was "embarrassing" as the police had made no effort to stop the mob.
"The police are biased and ignored their ultimate responsibility which is to protect the people," he said.
"The government has no right to make judgments on whether a religion is heretical or not. Its job is to protect the people."
The violence comes less than three months after US President Barack Obama visited Indonesia and praised its "spirit of religious tolerance" as an "example to the world".