Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Indonesia: Ahmadiyah followers get free education, still can’t go home

The Ahmadi Muslims have lived in limbo at the Wisma Transito shelter in Mataram after being chased from their homes by residents who believe they practice a “perverted” form of Islam.

Ahmadiyya Times | News Watch | Intl'l Desk
Source/Credit: The Jakarta Post | The Archipelago
By Panca Nugraha | September 21, 2010

The West Nusa Tenggara (NTB) administration announced it would guarantee the education of all children of displaced Jamaah Ahmadiyah members free of charge.

The Ahmadi Muslims have lived in limbo at the Wisma Transito shelter in Mataram after being chased from their homes by residents who believe they practice a “perverted” form of Islam.

“We also want to make sure these children are not discriminated against at school,” Lalu Syafi’i, the head of the province’s Education, Youth and Sport Affairs Agency, said.

He was speaking on a visit to Wisma Transito on Monday to make sure that all children of the Islamic sect members went to school on the first school day after the Idul Fitri holiday.

He said the local administration wanted the children’s education to run as smoothly as expected.

Lalu said that all Ahmadiyah children were exempt from paying school fees, especially those studying at elementary and junior high schools.

“All of them will also receive scholarships from the Bakrie School of Management [BSM] ‘scholarship for the poor’ program,” he said.

Refugee coordinator, Syahidin, said there were around 30 children living at Wisma Transito, 20 of whom were elementary school students while the rest are junior high school students.

They attend state-run elementary school SDN 42 Mataram and state-run junior high school SMP 16 Mataram, both of which are walking distance from their shelter.

Speaking in front of visiting officials, Syahidin expressed concern over the high price of textbooks the displaced families had to buy for their children.

“We also have had to buy school uniforms. It’s fortunate the schools are close enough that we don’t need to spend extra money on transportation,” Syahidin said.

Syahidin also said that so far, none of the Ahmadiyah children had received the BSM scholarships.

Through the scholarship program, the NTB administration pays a monthly installment of Rp 75,000 to each of the recipients of senior high school students; Rp 50,000 to junior high school students and Rp 15,000 to elementary school students.

Sixth-grader Anhar, 12, said he had not received the scholarship since arriving at Wisma Transito four years ago. “Some other friends have received it, but none of us from Transito,” he said.

Syahidin denied the education agency’s claim that frequent visits had been paid to Wisma Transito to monitor the refugees’ condition.

“Frankly speaking, this is the first time that we have been asked about our children’s education,”
said Syahidin after the entourage left.

He said the group had welcomed the addition of a new member on Sunday night with a birth, the thirteenth since the group took refugee at Transito in early 2006. There are now 33 families of 127 people there.

The government has declared Ahmadiyah a “deviant Islamic sect”. The group took refugee at Wisma Transito after being evicted from their homes in Ketapang, Gegerung sub-district, Lingsar district, West Lombok, on Feb. 4, 2006.

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