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It’s up to Ahmadiyah to leave: MUI
M. Taufiqurrahman, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta
The Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) said Tuesday moves by the Ahmadiyah breakaway group to seek foreign asylum were a publicity stunt to highlight its grievances, adding its members would never gain acceptance by mainstream Muslims.
MUI chairman Amidhan said he understood if the members – who visited the Australian Consulate General on Monday – felt there was a lack of state protection for them to practice their beliefs.
“If the Ahmadiyah members feel that the government does not make them feel safe, maybe they think they could find it somewhere else,” he told The Jakarta Post on Tuesday.
He said there was the slim likelihood that the members – who believe Mirza Ghulam Ahmad was the last prophet, not Muhammad – would ever gain acceptance here because their beliefs were condemned by most Muslims.
The MUI issued an edict in 1980 stating that Ahmadiyah was not Islamic, although the group has been recognized in the country since 1953.
Amidhan said the MUI could not be held responsible for the plight of Ahmadiyah members, who have been attacked and driven out of their homes in various parts of the country, despite the edict.
“We only decide what is deviant or not. It is up to the government and the public to take action.”
He added he could condone the actions of those angered by what they considered heretical beliefs. “Eviction of Ahmadiyah members only takes place because people feel offended by what the group believes in.”
On Monday, members of Ahmadiyah conveyed their grievances to the Australian Consulate General in Denpasar and said that they would seek asylum in the country.
The group’s legal advisers also said they would seek protection from Japanese, Canadian and German missions.
Ahmadiyah members fled their homes in Lingsar district, Lombok, in February after being attacked by locals and are now living in a temporary shelter in Denpasar.
The public affairs counsellor of the Australian Embassy in Jakarta, Steven Barraclough, confirmed that Ahmadiyah met with staff from the consulate general, but described it as a “private meeting”
Barraclough declined to comment on details of the meeting, aside from saying that the Australian government supported an open and pluralistic society in Indonesia.
Ahmadiyah spokesman Mubarrik Karim told the Post that the leadership of the group allowed its members to seek asylum abroad if they were persecuted for their beliefs.
Mubarrik said the effort in Bali was a last-ditch effort to secure protection.
“We have met with the House of Representatives, the National Commission on Human Rights and the local government but to no avail,” he said.
“These people are mostly poor farmers who just want to return to their homes. But they don’t have the courage to go home as they have been evicted seven times.”