Guarding Against Deviancy

May 18th, 2006, in News, by

A couple of cases of religious deviancy and the consequent responses of ordinary people and the authorities.

On the 11th of May it was reported that hundreds of people in Tangerang, Banten, descended on a house in the village of Rancadulang. In this house, it was suspected by the upstanding citizens, dark and heretical goings-on were taking place. A few dozen people in the house were forced to stop their religious service and flee.

The local residents accuse those who worship in the house of practising a deviant or heretical form of Islam. As proof they say that it commonly occurs that a number of men and women gather together in the house and turn the lights off. The residents suspect that things of a sexual nature then take place. The leader of the group, however, denied this.

Police arrived but took no action against anyone, protestors or sect members.

Meanwhile, more recently, the case of the “Madi” sect in central Sulawesi has come to a partial close in the courts. In October 2005 police came to the sect’s premises in the Palu area and attempted to arrest the leader, called Madi. Police had previously received reports from concerned locals that the Madi group were heretics. However sect members resisted and in the ensuing battle, in which blowpipes and sharp weapons were employed by the group, three policeman and one cultist were killed.

Yesterday, in the Palu courthouse, eight members of the sect were sentenced to nine years each in prison, and another two received five year sentences. Prosecutors had asked for twenty year sentences but judges ruled that the murders of the policemen had not been planned.

The Madi believe themselves to be Muslims but claim that fasting and regular prayers are not strictly necessary in the practice of Islam. Therefore, in terms of orthodox Islam, they are heretics and in Indonesian law they can be charged with blasphemy against Islam.

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