Kupang. Police in the East Nusa Tenggara island district of Lembata are closely monitoring a group who have syncretized various religions and are suspected of spreading deviant religious teachings.
“We have reported this to the headquarters and we have been ordered to closely monitor this group,” Lembata police chief Adj, Sr. Comr. Marthen Johannis said on Wednesday.
The group, which calls itself “Gafatar,” has some 30 members and is active in Lewoleba in the Lembata district.
“They have sought a permit to be able to conduct their group activities but I have not given it to them,” Johannis said.
Johannis said their initial surveillance showed that the group was aimed at unifying differences in the country while mixing up several religious teachings.
“We can take action against them, but will limit our self to [just] monitoring the activities of this group,” he said, adding that the group had not yet been declared a banned organization.
Viktor Mado Wutun, the deputy district chief of Lembata, said that so far the authorities saw the group as a non-governmental organization, and not as an organization that was spreading any particular religion or deviant teachings.
He said that authorities were awaiting a fatwa, or decree, from the provincial chapter of the Indonesian Council of Ulemas (MUI), before acting.
“If the East Nusa Tenggara MUI does not recognize this group, this Gafatar group, then the government will ask law enforcers to disband the organization and take their leaders to justice,” he said.
Mado added that the organization had not only confined themselves to Lembata but also to the Flores island.
Both Johannis and Mado could not provide any further details on the group.
Abdul Kadir Makarim, the chairman of the East Nusa Tenggara MUI, could not be reached for comment.