Who Is to Blame, the Victims or the Perpetrators? A Study to Understand a Series of Violence Targeting the Accused Heretic Group Ahmadiyya

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Conducted in Indonesia, this study analyzes how a religious group accused of being heretical ended up receiving threats and a number of violent reactions, a situation in which the victims were considered to have caused the violence. The study presented here focused on this case of the Ahmadiyya, a minority Muslim group in Indonesia that are the most frequently reported as being victims of violence. In total, 309 Sunni Muslims participated in filling out open-ended questions, and 10 Sunni Muslims (all male) participated in interviews discussing the Ahmadiyya and interreligious groups. We found that a substantial number of majority Sunni Muslims think that the values of the Ahmadiyya group are incompatible with common, mainstream Muslim values. As a consequence, their existence is considered a threat and a disruption to the Muslim community. Therefore, violence is justified if the group insists upon continuing their religious activities. In the eyes of these Sunni Muslims, Ahmadiyya members undermine the coherence within the Muslim community, and occurrence of violence against Ahmadiyya members is thus thought to be the victim’s own fault.

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