Indonesian ulema Syekh Ali Jaber stabbed in the arm during sermon, continues preaching

Indonesian ulema Syekh Ali Jaber was stabbed during a sermon in Lampung yesterday, before the celebrated preacher continued preaching following treatment to the wound in his arm.

According to the police, the naturalized Saudi-born preacher gave a sermon at a mosque in the city of Bandar Lampung yesterday afternoon. A 24-year-old man, identified by his initials AA, went up to the preacher and stabbed him in the arm, just below his shoulder, with a knife. 

AA was apprehended by local police and investigation into his motives is still underway. The suspect, who police say liked to watch Ali Jaber’s sermons online, may face charges related to aggravated assault but will first undergo a psychological examination as he may appear to be mentally challenged.

Police said Ali Jaber had a 4-centimeter deep wound in his arm, but he resumed preaching elsewhere in the city later that evening after his wound was dressed.

“There were actually officers guarding the location of the crime, but the suspect attacked the victim out of nowhere,” Lampung Provincial Police Chief Purwadi Arianto said.

Ali Jaber is set to continue preaching in the province as scheduled in his tour for the coming days, but with heightened police security.

The ulema, who has been praised by the government for his constant promotion of responsible health precautions amid the COVID-19 pandemic, called on the public not to be provoked by the attack.

“I believe that the authorities, namely the police, can process this case according to the law and be transparent with the public,” he said during a live TV interview yesterday evening.

“I am asking the people and netizens not to be baited and provoked by this attack. Do not link this to politics or what have you, I don’t want that.”

Ulemas have become a topic of political contention lately, notably after the government proposed a certification program for preachers in order to uphold high standards of religious teaching in the country. The program has been vehemently opposed by many Islamic groups, including the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI), who argued that the title of ulema is an honorific one, not a functional one.

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