Ahmadiyah Witnesses Protest Oath-Taking Imposed by Judge
Five members of the Ahmadiyah community on Tuesday said they would report a judge of the Bandung District Court to the Judicial Commission for refusing to allow them to take their oaths in the Islamic fashion, a report said.
Speaking at a press conference held at the Bandung office of the Indonesian Legal Aid Foundation (LBH), the five witnesses said Judge Sinung Hermawan had discriminated against them by ordering that they take their oath under non-Islamic rites, the Tempo Interaktif website said.
“The judge acted discriminatively against us,” said Yora Setiawan, one of the witnesses, according to Tempo Interaktif.
Yora and the four other Ahmadi witnesses — Rohman Musa, Irfan Yanuryana, Erwin Yanuryana and Hendar — were testifying at the Bandung court on Jan. 10 and 15 in a case concerning the attack and vandalization of the An-Nasir Mosque, an Ahmadi place of worship in Tasikmalaya, West Java, on Oct. 25 by members of the hard-line Islamic Defenders Front (FPI).
Yora said Sinung, who headed the panel of presiding judges, had initially asked that the witnesses take their oaths under the rites of the religion their identity cards showed them to belong to — in the Ahmadis’ case, Islam. But after FPI members and their supporters noisily protested in court, saying Ahmadis were not Muslims, Sinung changed his mind and ordered the witnesses to take a secular oath instead.
Under Islam, oaths are taken with the Koran placed above the head.
The witnesses and their lawyers said the report to the Judicial Commission would be filed on Wednesday.
“We strongly protest and express heavy objection to the discriminative action of the head of the panel of judges, who violated the procedure for oath-taking and put us really at a disadvantage,” said a written statement of the five witnesses read out at the press conference.
The report to the Judicial Commission will also include a demand that the judge repeat the hearing, this time administering the appropriate oath procedure for the witnesses.
Bandung LBH activist Unung Nuralamsyah was quoted as saying that the judge had violated an article of the Indonesian Criminal Procedural Code (Kuhap), which requires court oaths to be taken in accordance with the religion of the oath taker, and not at the demand of others.
“We will report the judge to the Judicial Commission because of a lack of intervention and not trying to refuse the proposal of the defendant’s lawyers demanding that the oath for the witnesses not be taken according to Islamic rites,” Unung said, according to Tempo Interaktif.
Unung said the witnesses would also report the head prosecutor, Agus Mujoko, to the Prosecutorial Commission.
Sinung said the Ahmadis and their lawyers from the LBH were free to report him to the Judicial Commission and argued that he decided to swear them in using secular rites because the defendant, Asep Abdurrachman, had objected.
Many mainstream Indonesian Muslims and the Indonesian Council of Ulema (MUI), supposedly the highest authority on Islamic matters in the country, object to the Ahmadiyah being classified as Islamic and view it as a heretical sect.
Ahmadi communities across the country, especially in West Java, Banten and on Lombok island in West Nusa Tenggara, have been subject to repeated attacks and violence in recent years.