Two Javanese men fall foul of the law for saying Islam is an unwanted Arab import.
In the town of Pasuruan, East Java two men, Rohim or Rochamim and Toyib were taken to the police station by angry local residents on 10th April because of Rochamim's dangerous ideas about religion, to which Toyib had become a follower.
Rochamim says that Islam is an Arab religion and has nothing to do with Java or Indonesia and that those Javanese people who embrace Islam have been tricked by Arabs. He also says that five times a day prayers are unnecessary, and that the Quran is full of lies.
Abdul Kodir, a neighbour of Rochamim, says:
In the beginning he made it known that he didn't like Arabs, and then that he didn't believe in Islam anymore. But he used to be a Muslim.
The Pasuruan area has quite a substantial population of people of Arab (and Persian) descent.
Abdul said people in the area had known about Rochamim's deviant thinking for several months but hadn't done anything about it because they didn't feel right about taking action, for uncertain reasons. Rochamim had won a small following of people who often visited his house and Abdul said residents bided their time until they felt ready to deal with him.
Rohim and Toyib, undergoing questioning.
Toyib, a follower, explained that Rochamim taught that daily prayers were useless and Rochamim advised that these be replaced by devotional visits to graves.
After Rochamim was arrested his house was searched and a number of items used in mystical ceremonies and practices were seized as evidence by police.
The Pasuruan branch of the Majelis Ulama Indonesia (MUI) is said to be speedily preparing a fatwa to condemn the ideas of Rochamim. Dhofir Azhari of the Pasuruan MUI has already paid a visit to the two men in custody and he reported that they had already apologised for their deviant Javanese ways. jawapos metrotv
Toyib has been charged under Article 156a of the criminal code dealing with blasphemy, while Rochamim has not yet been charged but is still in custody. Policeman Jebul Jatmoko says that Toyib is the one who spread the teachings to others.
Meanwhile about 30 of Rochamim's neighbours thronged the Pasuruan police station today to give evidence against the suspect. One of these people, Gus Muhammad, said he couldn't stand the presence of Rochamim's religious group in the neighbourhood and, went on "Gus Mad", as he is usually called, he hoped the police would deal with the criminals firmly. jawapos
Rochamim has responded to the allegations against him by saying that he was merely practising a Javanese form of religion, kejawen, a kind of animism, which is not illegal, but that he had never insulted Islam or Muslims, or any other religion. He said he had eight followers who regularly came to his house to learn kejawen ways. jawapos
13th April. Dhofir Azhari of the MUI says on the 11th he, or somebody, typed a new fatwa which condemned variation from the Quran and the hadiths as heresy. But no specific mention of Rochamim's teachings was made because the MUI is still examining the issue.
Rochamim and Toyib are still at the Pasuruan police station. They are apparently living there, not being held against their will, because the residents of their village, Bugul Kidul, are not willing to accept them back.