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Govt condemns group’s attack on Ahmadiyah
Muninggar Sri Saraswati, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta
The government condemned on Saturday an attack by members of Indonesian Muslim Solidarity on the Jamaah Ahmadiyah Congregation (JAI) on Friday afternoon.
Vice President Jusuf Kalla promised to investigate the case, which is another worrying sign of rising religious radicalization in the world’s largest Muslim country.
“We will question both sides,” Kalla said after a ceremony on Saturday morning.
Conveying his condemnation of the attack, the Vice President urged Indonesians not to resort to violence in dealing with differences of faith.
“We condemn the act. Differences of faith should not be resolved through violence,” Kalla said.
Minister of Religious Affairs M. Maftuh Basyuni also urged people “not to take the law into their own hands”.
However, he said he would study the teachings of JAI to determine if they were heretical, as claimed by a number of groups including the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI), which issued an edict declaring the teachings of Ahmadiyah forbidden.
About 10,000 people attacked the compound of the JAI on Friday. This was the second attempt this month to force the congregation from the compound, known as the Mubarak campus, on Jl. Raya Parung in Bogor, West Java. Some 500 JAI members have left the area.
The attackers damaged several buildings and set others on fire. Police were able to lead the JAI members safely out of the complex.
The campus looked quiet on Saturday morning, SCTV reported. Police only allowed JAI members back into the complex to collect their personal belonging.
Ahmadiyah was formed in Pakistan in the 19th century. Its followers believe that Ghulam Ahmad Khan, who founded the group, was a prophet who came after the Prophet Muhammad, whom mainstream Muslims believe was God’s final messenger.
Ahmadiyah is little known in Indonesia and there are only an estimated 200,000 followers in the country.
The People’s Alliance for Freedom to Implement Religions also condemned the attack, calling it “an act against civilization”.
The alliance called on the government to ensure justice was done in the case.
Dawam Rahardjo, a member of the alliance, said the attack against the JAI was a violation of human rights and the country’s Constitution, which guarantees the freedom of religion.
Acts of intimidation and aggression against religious groups or individuals by “other devotees” have been increasing in number over the past several 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.
Meanwhile, Muslim scholar Ulil Abshar Abdalla said that MUI’s edict against Ahmadiyah provided “legitimacy” for people to attack the congregation.
“The MUI should also be held responsible for the attack and reported to the courts,” said Ulil, who in 2003 was condemned by a Muslim group, which issued a death sentence against him, for publishing an article criticizing the conservatism of some Muslim leaders.
Ulil urged the MUI to revoke the edict.
The MUI has said it would not revoke the edict, which was issued in 1980, insisting that Ahmadiyah’s teachings were against Islam, but also condemned Friday’s attack on the Ahmadiyah compound.