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Home Worldwide Indonesia Government rejects …
Government rejects MUI’s demand to ban Ahmadiyah

Headline News August 11, 2005 

Government rejects MUI’s demand to ban Ahmadiyah

Muninggar Sri Saraswati, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

The government will not ban the teachings of the Indonesian Ahmadiyah Congregation (JAI) nor dissolve the group, but will let the government-sanctioned Indonesia Ulema Council (MUI) decide whether it will file such a request with the court, a senior minister says.

Coordinating Minister for People’s Welfare Alwi Shihab said on Wednesday that the government continued to acknowledge a government decree issued in 1980, which allows Ahmadiyah followers to implement the teachings among themselves, but bans them from disseminating them.

“The government has decided to let the judiciary have the final say on this issue,” he said after attending a ceremony at the State Palace.

According to Alwi, the government arrived at its stance during a recent ministerial meeting on political affairs.

Thousands of people attacked last month the JAI campus in Parung, Bogor, West Java.

The attackers, from a group calling itself the Indonesian Muslim Solidarity group, have publicly admitted that they were motivated by a controversial fatwa issued in 1980 by the MUI, which banned the group as it does not recognize Muhammad as the last prophet.

The MUI recently upheld the edict during a national meeting in Jakarta, asking the government to ban the teachings of Ahmadiyah and the group.

Several Muslim leaders, including those from Muhammadiyah and Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), the country’s two largest Muslim organizations, have condemned the attack. They said faith differences should not be resolved with violence. Some have even criticized the MUI for issuing such a controversial edict, which is not legally binding.

Acts of intimidation and aggression against religious groups or individuals by “other devotees” have been increasing in number over the past few years.

Experts have called on the government to act swiftly to protect the people’s right to freely follow their religion. Some have suggested the government also acknowledge other religions and beliefs outside the existing five recognized by the state under the Constitution.

But Alwi said that the government would allow the MUI to seek the court’s ruling if it wanted to ban Ahmadiyah.

Ahmadiyah was established in Pakistan in the 19th century by Mirza Gulam Ahmad. Its followers believe that he was a prophet who came after the Prophet Muhammad.

Ahmadiyah is little known in Indonesia. It did not take root in the country until the 1980s. There are an estimated 200,000 followers in the country.

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