Preacher Attacked Over Prayer Message

Banda Aceh, TAG - A mosque preacher was beaten by members of his congregation angered by a Friday prayer that touched on the sensitive topics of the separatist Free Aceh Movement (GAM) and local politics.

Saiful Bahri, 35, irked his listeners at Keumala Grand Mosque in Pidie district by criticizing local politicians and former GAM guerillas. During the prayer a man suddenly made his way to the stage and started to assault the preacher.

“Several other members of the congregation also started to beat the preacher, turning the situation inside the mosque to chaos,” an eyewitness told the Jakarta Globe on condition of anonymity.

Saiful criticized former GAM leaders for becoming wealthy at the expense of regular people.

“[They] build big houses and buy cars. They do so from the blood of the nation,” the witness quoted the preacher saying to the congregation.

The topic of the sermon was unforgivable sins and Saiful linked it to politics, the witness said.

“Never become involved just because of different parties. For example, a son-in-law in the SIRA [Aceh People’s Independent Voice] Party doesn’t want to talk to his father-in-law who is a member of the Aceh Party,” Saiful reportedly said.

The SIRA Party was founded by former activists and students who had sought independence for the province through political means, while the Aceh Party was set up by former GAM members who took up an armed struggle against Indonesia.

“Because of the elections, we killed people, we asked other to shoot people,” the preacher said.

Witnesses said that during the sermon, a man believed to be a former GAM member stood up and shouted at Saiful “get down and stop your campaign.”
“The preacher sustained injuries to his face. His temple was bleeding . Other people tried to rescue the preacher and he was brought to the nearest police office,” the witness said.

About 200 people were in the mosque at the time of the incident.
A police officer in Pidie, Jatmiko, said an investigation was under way. He declined to say whether the attackers were former GAM members.

Aceh was plagued by civil war for decades, killing some 25,000 people, mostly civilians, until GAM and the government signed a peace deal in Helsinki in 2005.[]
Preacher Attacked Over Prayer Message Preacher Attacked Over Prayer Message Reviewed by Nurdin Hasan on September 11, 2011 Rating: 5

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