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Cablegate: Lombok's Ahmadiyah Sect: Dangerous or Endangered?

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SUBJECT: LOMBOK'S AHMADIYAH SECT: DANGEROUS OR ENDANGERED?


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1. (SBU) Surabaya Pol/Econ Officer and Pol/Econ Assistant
traveled to the island of Lombok in the province of West Nusa
Tenggara, from September 11 to 13. While there, they met with
127 members of the religious sect Ahmadiyah at their refugee
barracks in the provincial capital Mataram. In February 2006,
local residents burned 24 Ahmadiyah homes and local police
forced the 137 residents of the village of Gegerung to move to
the Transito barracks "for their own safety." During the
meeting, Ahmadiyah leaders described an administrative war of
attrition waged by the provincial and local governments --
identity cards, health care and full access to education are
routinely denied. Opinions widely differ on the causes for the
continued conflict. While Ahmadiyah members blame a mix of
pressure and neglect by Lombok officials, local police and
religious leaders say the poor treatment of Ahmadiyah can be
traced to the group's poor relations with its neighbors.

2. (SBU) Ahmadiyah members said that relations with the local
community had always been cordial prior to the attack, but
charges of heresy against Ahmadiyah by local Islamic leaders
galvanized thugs to begin burning their homes. "We would be
welcomed back today if we were allowed by the authorities", said
the spokesman. The Ahmadiyah spokesman provided us with copies
of several written requests for assistance and legal redress to
local and national leaders, to which they said there has been no
response to date. According to the refugees, rather than
protecting the group, the local police are in league with
Ahmadiyah's enemies. Ahmadiyah leaders in Transito said the
police had stood idle during the most recent attacks on Gegerung
village last year.

3. (SBU) On September 12, the Deputy Chief of East Nusa
Tenggarah Provincial Police told us that Ahmadiyah exclusivity
was a root cause of the violence. "When they first arrived in
Lombok, there was little trouble between the sect and their
neighbors", he said. The Deputy Chief also complained that the
police were weary of protecting the sect after repeated attacks
and wondered sarcastically if they wouldn't be better off on "an
island of their own."

4. (SBU) Our discussions with leaders of Pesantren Nurul Hakim,
a large residential religious school in Eastern Lombok touched
on the subject of Ahmadiyah. The Head of this school has been
unequivocal in calling for the banning of Ahmadiyah since
October 2005, when the Islamic Council of Indonesia office in
West Lombok requested that the local Regent impose a ban on the
group. The Assistant Head of the school, who has done research
on the group for his PhD dissertation, told us that it is the
very resilience of Ahmadiyah in the face of oppression that
helped spark calls to ban it. Several attacks on Ahmadiyah
communities have taken place on Lombok since the decision. The
Assistant Head of the school was particularly struck by the
continued success of Ahmadiyah in gaining new members telling us
that, "They are still able to attract new followers while the
group as a whole is under constant pressure."

MCCLELLAND

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