Religious Persecution of Ahmadiyya Muslim Community
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In this book, the author deals with an issue that has lamentably marked humankind's religious history. Relying on a wide range of interviews he conducted throughtout Pakistan, Antonio R. Gualtieri relates the tragic experience of members of the Ahmadiyya Muslim community. Their right to define themselves as Muslims has been denied by the Govt. of Pakistan acting in collusion with orthodox Islamic teachers. Ahmadis have been beaten and murdered. They have been jailed, hounded from jobs and schools, their mosques sealed or vandalized, for professing to be Muslims and following Islamic practices. This book records their testimony of Harassment and persecution resulting from their loyalty to their understanding of God and HIS revelation.
US$4.99 [Order]

Home U.S. Department of State Annual Report (IRF) 2007: Indonesia
Int’l Religious Freedom Report - 2007: Indonesia

Excerpts from
U.S. Department of State
International Religious Freedom Report 2007 : Indonesia External Link - Opens new browser window
Released by the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor
September 17, 2007

The Constitution provides for freedom of religion, and the Government generally respected this right in practice. There was no change in the status of respect for religious freedom by the Government during the reporting period, and government policy continued to contribute to the generally free practice of religion. However, while most of the population enjoyed a high degree of religious freedom, the Government recognized only six major religions. Some legal restrictions continued on certain types of religious activity and on unrecognized religions. The Government sometimes tolerated discrimination against and the abuse of religious groups by private actors and often failed to punish perpetrators. While Aceh remained the only province authorized to implement Islamic law (Shari’a), several local governments outside of Aceh promulgated laws implementing elements of Shari’a that abrogated the rights of women and religious minorities. The Government did not use its constitutional authority over religious matters to review or overturn these local laws. Persons of minority religious groups and atheists continued to experience official discrimination, often in the context of civil registration of marriages and births or the issuance of identity cards. [Para # 1]

The public generally respected religious freedom; however, extremist groups used violence and intimidation to force eight small, unlicensed churches and one Ahmadiyya mosque to close. In addition several churches and Ahmadiyya places of worship that were forcibly shut in previous years by mobs remained closed. Some government officials and mass Muslim organizations continued to reject the Ahmadiyya interpretation of Islam resulting in discrimination against its followers. Many perpetrators of past abuse against religious minorities were not brought to justice. Also, instances of extremists attacking and attempting to terrorize members of other religions occurred in certain provinces during the reporting period. [Para # 2]

The U.S. Government discusses religious freedom issues with the Government as part of its overall policy to promote human rights. The Embassy promoted religious freedom and tolerance through exchanges and civil society development. [Para # 3]

Section I. Religious Demography

An archipelago of more than 17,000 islands, the country has an area of 700,000 million square miles and a population of 245 million. [Para # 4]

According to the 2000 census report, 88.2 percent of the population described themselves as Muslim, 5.9 percent Protestant, 3.1 percent Roman Catholic, 1.8 percent Hindu, 0.8 percent Buddhist, and 0.2 percent “other,” including traditional indigenous religions, other Christian groups, and Jewish. Some Christians, Hindus, and members of other minority religious groups argued that the census undercounted non-Muslims. The Government does not recognize atheism. [Para # 5]

Most Muslims in the country are Sunni. The Shi’a estimate that there are between one and three million Shi’a. The majority of the mainstream Muslim community follows two orientations: modernists, who closely adhere to scriptural orthodox theology while embracing modern learning and concepts; and traditionalists, who often follow charismatic religious scholars and organize around Islamic boarding schools. The leading modernist social organization, Muhammadiyah, claimed 30 million followers, while the largest traditionalist social organization, Nahdlatul Ulama, claimed 40 million. [Para # 6]

Smaller Islamic organizations range from the Liberal Islam Network, which promotes an individual interpretation of doctrine, to groups such as Hizb ut-Tahrir Indonesia, which advocates a pan-Islamic caliphate, and the Indonesian Mujahidin Council, which advocates implementation of Shari’a as a precursor to an Islamic state. A small minority of people subscribe to the Ahmadiyya interpretation of Islam and there are 242 Ahmadiyya branches. Other messianic Islamic groups exist, including Darul Arqam, Jamaah Salamulla (Salamulla Congregation), and the Indonesian Islamic Propagation Institute. [Para # 7]

Section II. Status of Religious Freedom

Legal/Policy Framework

The Constitution provides for the freedom of religion, and the Government generally respected this right in practice. The Constitution accords “all persons the right to worship according to their own religion or belief ” and states that “the nation is based upon belief in one supreme God.” The first tenet of the country’s national ideology, Pancasila, declares belief in one God. However, some restrictions exist on certain types of religious activity and on unrecognized religions. Government employees must swear allegiance to the nation and to the Pancasila ideology. The Government sometimes tolerated extremist groups that used violence and intimidation against religious groups, and often failed to punish perpetrators. The Government did not use its authority to review or revoke local laws that violated freedom of religion. [Para # 18]

The Ministry of Religious Affairs extends official status to six faiths: Islam, Catholicism, Protestantism, Buddhism, Hinduism, and, as of January 2006, Confucianism. Atheism is not recognized. Religious organizations other than the six recognized religions can register with the Ministry for Culture and Tourism only as social organizations, restricting certain religious activities. Unregistered religious groups do not have the right to establish a house of worship and have administrative difficulties obtaining identity cards and registering marriages and births. [Para # 19]

The Government requires officially recognized religious groups to comply with Ministry of Religious Affairs and other ministerial directives, such as the Revised Joint Ministerial Decree on the Construction of Houses of Worship (2006), Overseas Aid to Religious Institutions in Indonesia (1978), and the Guidelines for the Propagation of Religion (1978). [Para # 20]

On December 9, 2006, the House of Representatives passed a new civil registration bill requiring citizens to identify themselves on government ID cards as belonging to one of the six religions recognized by the Government. The bill legalized what in the past had been a nationwide administrative practice. The bill does not allow for the registration of other religions on ID cards. [Para # 21]

The 2006 Revised Joint Ministerial Decree on the Construction of Houses of Worship, issued on March 21, 2006, requires religious groups that want to build a house of worship to obtain the signatures of at least 90 members and 60 persons of other religious groups in the community stating that they support the establishment, as well as approval from the local religious affairs office. Some religious groups complained that the revised decree made it too difficult to establish a house of worship, while others argued that the increased clarity of the revised decree would improve the situation by diminishing conflicting interpretations of the 1969 decree that it superseded. [Para # 22]

In October 2005 the regional representative office of the Ministry of Religious Affairs in West Nusa Tenggara issued a ban on 13 religious groups, including Ahmadiyya, Jehovah’s Witness, Hare Krishna, and 9 forms of traditional beliefs (Aliran Kepercayaan) as being deviations of Islam, Christianity, and Hinduism. The ban is still valid. [Para # 31]

The national Government did not formally ban the activities of the minority Muslim Ahmadiyya sect, but some local governments did. Despite the central Government’s jurisdiction over religious affairs, the administration continued to refrain from taking a clear position on the local bans against the Ahmadiyya. [Para # 38]

The Government bans proselytizing, arguing that such activity, especially in areas heavily dominated by members of another religion, could prove disruptive. In 1979 the Ministries of Religion and Home Affairs issued a joint decree prohibiting conversion efforts. [Para # 43]

The Government formed the Council of Indonesian Ulama (MUI) in 1975 and continues to fund and appoint its members. The MUI is not formally a government body. Nevertheless, its edicts or fatwas (religious decrees) are designed to be moral guiding principles for Muslims. Although MUI opinions are not legally binding, society and the Government seriously consider them when making decisions or drafting legislation. In 2005 the national MUI issued 11 fatwas, including 1 that banned the Ahmadiyya. The fatwas were influential in official and social discrimination against the Ahmadiyya and other minority religious groups during the reporting period. [Para # 44]

During the reporting period, several government officials and prominent political leaders interacted in public forums and seminars with religious leaders and interfaith groups such as the Indonesian Anti-Discrimination Movement and National People’s Solidarity (Solidaritas Nusa Bangsa). [Para # 45]

Restrictions on Religious Freedom

Government policy and practice contributed to the generally free practice of religion. However, certain policies, laws, and official actions restricted religious freedom, and the Government sometimes tolerated discrimination against and abuse of individuals based on their religious belief by private actors. There were no reports of religious prisoners or detainees in the country. [Para # 47]

The Government requires all adult citizens to carry a National Identity Card (KTP) which, among other things, identifies the holder’s religion. Members of religions not recognized by the Government are generally unable to obtain KTPs unless they incorrectly identify themselves as belonging to a recognized religion. During the reporting period, human rights groups continued to receive sporadic reports of local Civil Registry officials who rejected applications submitted by members of unrecognized or minority religions. Others accepted applications, but issued KTPs that inaccurately reflected the applicants’ religion. Some animists received KTPs that listed their religion as Islam. Many Sikhs registered as Hindu on their KTPs and marriage certificates because the Government did not officially recognize their religion. Some citizens without a KTP had difficulty finding work. Several nongovernmental organizations and religious advocacy groups continued to urge the Government to delete the religion category from KTPs. [Para # 48]

The civil registration system restricts the religious freedom of persons who do not belong to the six recognized faiths; animists, Baha’is, and members of other small minority faiths found it difficult to register marriages or births, notwithstanding the June 2007 regulation pertaining to marriage and civil administration. In practice, couples prevented from registering their marriage or the birth of a child in accordance with their faiths converted to one of the recognized faiths or misrepresented themselves as belonging to one of the six. Those who chose not to register their marriages or births risked future difficulties: a child without a birth certificate cannot enroll in school and may not qualify for scholarships. Individuals without birth certificates do not qualify for government jobs. [Para # 49]

Religious groups and social organizations must obtain permits to hold religious concerts or other public events. The Government usually granted permits in an unbiased manner unless a concern existed that the activity could anger members of another religious group in the area. [Para # 51]

Religious speeches may be given if delivered to members of the same religion and not intended to convert persons of other faiths. Televised religious programming remained unrestricted, and viewers could watch religious programs offered by any of the recognized faiths. [Para # 52]

No restrictions exist on the publication of religious materials or the use of religious symbols; however, the Government bans dissemination of these materials to persons of other faiths. [Para # 53]

Abuses of Religious Freedom

During the reporting period there were reports of abuse of religious freedom across the country. [Para # 59]

During the reporting period, as in past periods, the Government continued to explicitly and implicitly restrict the religious freedom of groups associated with forms of Islam viewed as outside the mainstream. Also during the reporting period, the Government arrested and charged individuals with heresy, blasphemy, and insulting Islam. [Para # 60]

During the reporting period, 187 members of the Ahmadiyya continued to live at a refugee camp in Mataram, Lombok. They have been living in the camp since attacks by local Muslims in February and March 2006 destroyed their homes and mosques. Representatives of Ahmadiyya in Lombok raised security concerns on July 24, 2006, with representatives of the Australian Consulate in Bali. They requested asylum from persecution by local Muslims. In May 2007, the West Nusa Tenggara Deputy Governor stated that the Ahmadiyya are permitted by law to seek asylum in another country. [Para # 62]

Violence and actions against the Ahmadiyya community increased after the MUI issued a July 2005 fatwa that condemned the Ahmadiyya as a heretical sect. In 2005 a number of policies, laws, and official actions restricted the religious freedom of the Ahmadiyya community in other areas. Despite a heavy police presence during two attacks on an Ahmadiyya congregation in West Java in July 2005, police made no arrests. A local ban was subsequently passed against the Ahmadiyya in West Java, and they were prevented from using their religious complex. As of the end of the reporting period, no action had been taken against the perpetrators of the incidents. The Government continued to tolerate discrimination and abuse toward the Ahmadiyya by remaining silent on the 2005 MUI fatwa, the Ahmadiyya’s legal status, and local bans. [Para # 63]

Section III. Societal Attitudes

During the reporting period, there were reports of societal abuses or discrimination based on religious belief or practice. [Para # 96]

Several houses of worship, religious schools, and homes of Muslim sects regarded as unorthodox were attacked, vandalized, forced to shut down, or prevented from being established by militant groups and mobs throughout the country, as the following examples illustrate. [Para # 102]

On June 19, 2007, dozens of people from the FPI and other hardline groups demonstrated at the Mahmud Mosque in Singaparna, Tasikmalaya, West Java, demanding that the Ahmadiyah be dissolved. During the protest, the crowd damaged the mosque. The demonstration was allegedly in response to a regional meeting held by the Ahmadiyah community on April 22, 2007. Ahmadiyah leaders claimed to have received police permission to meet. Police quickly secured the mosque and contained the demonstration. Following the incident, Ahmadiyah leaders met with local Muslim leaders, and discussions between Ahmadiyah and Muslim youth groups yielded a public discussion entitled, “The Country Must Protect Ahmadiyah Members.” On June 26, 2007, however, the same group of demonstrators demanded that the Tasikmalaya Regional Parliament dissolve the Ahmadiyah. The Parliament rejected the demand, stating that religious affairs are the jurisdiction of the Central Government. [Para # 103]

Muslims routinely reported difficulties in establishing mosques in Muslim-minority areas of Papua, North Sulawesi, and elsewhere. [Para # 112]

Section IV. U.S. Government Policy

The U.S. Mission, including the U.S. Embassy in Jakarta, the Consulate General in Surabaya, and the Consulate in Medan, regularly engaged government officials on specific religious freedom issues and also encouraged officials from other missions to discuss the subject with the Government. Embassy staff at all levels met frequently with religious leaders and human rights advocates to promote respect for religious freedom. Embassy staff also met regularly with NU and Muhammadiyah officials to clarify U.S. policy and discuss religious tolerance and other issues. [Para # 119]

Mission outreach emphasized the importance of religious freedom and tolerance in a democratic society. During the reporting period, the Mission promoted pluralism and tolerance through exchanges and civil society programs. [Para # 120]

Two-hundred thirteen Indonesians visited the United States on short-term programs that included examining the role of religion in U.S. society and politics. The programs allowed participants to explore first hand the integral role of religious pluralism, interfaith dialogue, and multiculturalism in a democratic society. For example, one youth leadership program offered Indonesian teenagers the opportunity to meet American peers in the United States. They participated in community activities, met local religious leaders, and engaged in discussions on religious tolerance. Eight Fulbright scholars from the country went to the United States to pursue degrees directly related to the practice of religion in a democratic society. Three U.S. scholars came to Indonesia to teach and conduct research on similar topics. [Para # 121]

The U.S. Mission reached millions through the production of media programs that provided in-depth coverage of religious freedom issues from an American perspective. These included the Greetings from America radio show, which periodically featured topics such as religious freedom, religious differences, tolerance, and pluralism from the perspective of Indonesian high school and college students living in the United States. This radio show aired 9 times a week to a potential audience of 10 million persons in 6 cities. [Para # 122]

The U.S. Mission also funded the production of a television documentary series, The Colors of Democracy, which was produced jointly in the country and the United States. The series, which initially aired during evening newscasts from December 5, 2005, until January 25, 2006, periodically addressed topics such as freedom of religion and interfaith dialogue in the United States. The Mission contributed 6,000 sets of video compact discs (VCDs) based on, The Colors of Democracy, highlighting the positive impact of religious freedom, pluralism, and interfaith activities in schools and libraries. Through an agreement with the Ministry of Education that was signed on October 11, 2006, the VCDs were incorporated into the ministry’s teacher training curriculum that encompasses 32,000 schools across the country. [Para # 123]

The U.S. Mission continued to fund the Center for Religion and Cross-cultural Studies (CRCS) at Yogyakarta’s Gajah Mada University. The CRCS worked with the national Radio Republik Indonesia to produce a bimonthly talk show that promoted religious freedom, tolerance, and democracy. In addition to the live radio broadcast, the program was screened on TVRI Yogyakarta, enabling dissemination of these ideas to local communities in Yogyakarta and surrounding areas of Central Java. The content of the program was published in the local newspaper. In December 2006 the CRCS extended public discussion on these issues through the establishment of a website. [Para # 124]

The Mission supported the development and production of a 12 episode television talk show entitled Islam Indonesia. The program targeted the educated middle class and young professionals and was televised every two weeks, providing the opportunity for the public to listen to, watch, and actively engage in debates through live phone-ins. Topics discussed included freedom of religion, tolerance, and pluralism. Each episode received between 12 and 33 phone calls. [Para # 125]

In conjunction with a weekly magazine, the Mission supported publication of supplemental editions to provide objective information on the efforts of prodemocratic Muslim networks to support the democratic process, including religious freedom, tolerance, civil rights, and democracy. The magazine distributes 90,000 copies nationwide on a weekly basis with an estimated readership of 450,000 persons. [Para # 126]

The Mission also supported campus seminar programs aimed at strengthening supporters of pluralism on Islamic campuses and reinforce an understanding of religious freedom, tolerance, pluralism, and gender equity. Public discussions were held on several campuses in Jakarta, Serang, Rangkasbitung, Yogyakarta, Surabaya, Mataram, and Medan in cooperation with state Islamic universities and public universities such as Gajah Mada University and University of North Sumatra. More than 1,500 students from a wide range of backgrounds and 50 national and local speakers were involved in the discussions. [Para # 127]

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