The East Lombok Police criminal investigation division released eight Ahmadiyah followers from Bagik Manis village, East Lombok regency, West Nusa Tenggara, on Saturday after detaining them for four days for allegedly praying with non-Ahmadis.

“They told us that there was a report from local people saying that we prayed with non-Ahmadis in my home. Then, local officials from the village administration ordered us to go to the sub-district office with them,” Monginsidi, one of the Ahmadis, told The Jakarta Postin a telephone interview on Sunday.

He added that when they arrived, the head of Sambelia religious affairs office (KUA) told them that Ahmadiyah followed a different syahadat (Islamic creed), which the three Ahmadis denied.

Sambelia sub-district head Buhari said that to avoid any problems, he decided to take the Ahmadis to the Sambelia Police office.

“A crowd formed outside while they were in my office, so I decided to take him to the police to protect as they would not come to any harm there,” Buhari told the Post over the phone.

Indonesian Ahmadiyah Congregation (JAI) spokesperson Yendra Budiana said there were eight Ahmadiyah families in Sambelia village and the heads of five of them were also taken to the Sambelia police office from their homes while the other three were being questioned.

National Police spokesman Insp. Gen. Boy Rafli Amar said on Monday that the local police decided to detain the eight Ahmadis for their own protection.

“It was for their own safety. We didn’t want any violence. We also ordered local communities to engage in dialogue to address any problems,” Boy told journalists.

However, Monginsidi said that several people joined them in the sub-district office such as local figures from Bagik Manis village but none of them spoke out against the Ahmadiyah or tried to harm them.

Yendra said the JAI contacted East Lombok Police on Friday asking them to release the eight Ahmadis. The request was granted after a meeting was held in the village with Sambelia Police officers, local figures and local officials, which decided that they should be released but must move from the village.

He added that the next day, East Lombok Police officers delivered them to a mosque at their village where Sambelia Police personnel and village officials asked them to sign statements promising not to disseminate Ahmadiyah teachings and if they wished to live in the sub-district they must give up being Ahmadis.

“However, they all refused to sign the statements, asking to remove the words ‘should not follow Ahmadiyah’ in the text before they would be willing to sign them,” Yendra said, adding that currently all of them were still living in the village.

There have been widespread instances of discrimination against Ahmadiyah followers across the country. In February, Ahmadis in Bangka regency, Bangka Belitung, were forced to leave their village because local people protested against their presence. Meanwhile, in May, a mob ransacked an Ahmadiyah mosque in Kendal, Central Java even though the followers had acquired a permit to build it in 2003.

National Commission on Human Rights commissioner Muhammad Nurkhoiron said that the government was failing to guarantee the freedom of religion in the country.

“Discrimination against Ahmadiyah followers is an old story. It proves that the government has never regarded it as a serious matter. That is an example of a human rights violation and the government has not been there to protect the minority,” Nurkhoiron said. (wnd)