A court in the western Java city of Serang, Indonesia, shocked the rest of the world on Thursday when it gave light sentences to Muslim extremists who had been involved in a murderous mob attack on members of the Ahmadiyya sect considered a heretic cult of Islam by mainstream Muslim groups.
In February 2011, a mob of Muslims attacked members of the Ahmadiyya minority sect, killing three and dealing severe injuries to five (see below a graphic video of the attack). The police had watched idly while the the Muslim extremists attacked the Ahmadiyya Muslims, beat them with stones and hacked them to death.
Of the twelve Muslims involved in the attack who stood trial, none of them was charged with murder and all were sentenced to between three to six months jail terms. Dani bin Misra, 17, one of the killers, whom video footage showed killing and smashing his victim's skulls with a stone received a sentence of three months in jail, a mere slap in the wrist. Idris bin Mahdani was only convicted of illegal possession of machetes. He received fives months and 15 days in jail.
The Cikeusik trial sends the chilling message that attacks on minorities like the Ahmadiyah will be treated lightly by the legal system…This is a sad day for justice in Indonesia.
The Ahmadiyya are an Islamic sect founded in India in the late 19th century with their teachings and beliefs having originated from Mirza Ghulum Ahmad (1835-1908), who proclaimed himself the end time Mahdi or Messiah awaited by Muslims and who would be sent by God to bring about the final triumph of Islam over the world. His followers, who came to be known as the Ahmadis, believed that the original message of the Prophet Mohammad had been corrupted over the centuries and that it was for their movement to restore the original message of the Prophet Muhammad in its pristine purity. However, most orthodox Muslims do not consider Ahmadiyya Muslims genuine Muslims, mostly because they believe that Muhammad is not the last prophet and also because of the important place that the Christian Jesus holds in the Ahmadiyya system. According to the Ahmadiyya, Jesus was crucified and managed to survive the crucifixion ordeal. He later recovered in the tomb and escaped to Kashmir where he died in his old age in search of the Lost Ten Tribes of ISreal. According to Ahmadiyya teaching, Jesus prophesied the coming of Muhammad.
The Ahmadiyya are the most peaceful sect of Islam who hold fast to peaceful evangelical view of the Holy Jihad. The Ahmadiyyas are widely marginalized and persecuted in many Muslim countries and many of them were forced to emigrate to more friendly environment in the West. The Ahmadiyya are prohibited under law in Pakistan from identifying themselves as Muslims. In Indonesia, rising trend of Islamic fundamentalism provoked hostility against them. In June 2008, a law was passed restricting Ahmadiyya proselytizing and an Ahmadiyya mosque was burned. The Ahmadiyya have suffered several attacks and harassment in recent times in Indonesia with many calling for a total ban on the sect in the country. The have suffered persecution including mobs preventing them from saying prayers and burning of their worship places. The February incidence in which Ahmadiyya were killed in Pandeglang, Banten province was the culmination of a history of intolerance and persecution of the sect in Indonesia.
Both the United States and the EU have condemned the verdicts by the Indonesian courts. A statement released by the US embassy in Jakarta said,
We are disappointed by the disproportionally light sentences…The United States encourages Indonesia to defend its tradition of tolerance for all religions, a tradition praised by President Obama in his November 2010 visit to Jakarta
The EU mission in Jakarta also expressed its dismay at the light sentences, saying:
The EU Delegation shares the strong concerns voiced by many Indonesians that sentences imposed for violent crimes against religious or other minorities should always be commensurate with the gravity of the crimes committed
A lawyer for the Ahmadiyya, in an interview with Radio Australia, said that judges are under threat from fundamentalist organizations who attend the court proceedings.
This Graphic footage of the attack was filmed by an Ahmadiyyah follower who mingled with the attackers and watched his friends being murdered.