Dozens of people stormed a mosque in the Aceh capital of Banda Aceh over alleged ideological differences with a guest preacher delivering a sermon at the house of worship recently, footage of which have gone viral online.
According to reports, on Thursday evening, a preacher named Firanda Andirja was delivering a sermon at the Al-Fitrah mosque in Banda Aceh in front of a congregation numbering in the dozens when a group of protesters, also numbering in the dozens, stormed into the mosque and demanded that Firanda's sermon be stopped and he be removed from the mosque.
Chaos briefly ensued as the two opposing groups shouted at and shoved each other.
Police and military personnel soon arrived at the scene to secure a safe exit for Firanda. Authorities managed to quell tensions but Firanda's protesters remained at the mosque for around two hours before they dispersed.
Protesting against an Islamic cleric may seem out of place in ultra-conservative Aceh, but Firanda's protesters, who identified themselves as belonging to the Ahlulsunnah Waljamaah (Aswaja) strand of Islam (those who strictly follow the teachings of Prophet Muhammad) rejected Firanda as they believe that he is a Wahabi (adherents to a puritanical form of Islam) and that his teachings were therefore not compatible with the Aswaja majority of Aceh.
"There was a sermon by Ustadz Firanda but the people here (in Banda Aceh) may not have been ready to receive him so they came to the mosque during the sermon," Banda Aceh Police Chief Trisno Riyanto told reporters, as quoted by Kumparan.
Trisno added that authorities actually warned the sermon's organizers not to go through with the event but their warning was unheeded. The sermon was nonetheless stopped after the mosque was stormed by Firanda's protesters, and there were thankfully no reports of any injuries.
Firanda, who does not, at least officially, appear to belong to any specific school of Islamic thought, has not released any statements about his forced removal from the mosque. But on the back of the incident, the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) says clerics should be mindful of the general beliefs in any given area in order to prevent ideological clashes like this from happening again.