Subject: Indonesia reports detention of Muslims in E Timor over visa violations

Indonesia reports detention of Muslims in East Timor over visa violations

November 18, 2004 10:23am Asia Intelligence Wire

Jakarta: An attempt by an Indonesian Muslim group known as Al-Mufarridiyah to become East Timor citizens has hit the wall again. The five Al-Mufarridiyah members have been in detention since 16 November. They were ordered to stand trial which started on Tuesday 17 November [as received].

The five people were detained and taken to court for failing to comply with the East Timorese government's order that they apply for a visa and immediately leave the country. Earlier, the East Timorese government had given them a deadline of 16 November. The East Timorese immigration authorities consider them to be illegal immigrants. In fact, the Muslim group living in the An'Nur Mosque, Kampung Alor, Dili, came to East Timor before the poll in East Timor in 1999.

According to one of the Al-Mufarridiyah members, who wanted to remain anonymous, they had been trying to become East Timorese citizens since their arrival. "But we always end up missing out," he said. He continued that the East Timorese government would not process their citizenship until they evacuated the mosque and moved to Pasitolu. "We don't want to leave the mosque. What's more the area they are pointing us to is a designated livestock quarantine facility," he said.

Another reason for not wanting to leave the mosque was because the An'nur Mosque was the only mosque in Dili. "There are very few Muslims here, so if we leave, the Islamic faith will not be fostered in East Timor," he said. They said that they would stay in the mosque and continue their efforts to become East Timorese citizens despite the deportation threat. "For the sake of Islam in East Timor," he said.

Currently, around 300 Muslims living in the An'nur Mosque have not been game enough to leave the mosque compound. "There are too many police here," said the man. "We cannot possibly leave the mosque because we have no documents whatsoever," he added. Being isolated and not being game enough to leave the mosque, they are concerned that they will run out of food and daily necessities. However, they admitted that they had no problem with the East Timorese people living in Kampung Alor.

Source: Republika, Jakarta, in Indonesian 18 Nov 04 p 8

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