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Jakarta — A call for the Indonesian government to ban a splinter group of Islam, which believes its founder is a prophet after Mohammed, sparked controversy with Muslim scholars saying it could trigger fresh attacks on the group, local media reports said Thursday. The government-appointed Coordinating Board for Monitoring Mystical Beliefs in Society (Bakor Pakem), on Wednesday recommended the sect Ahmadiyah be banned from propagating its teachings.
Board chairman Wisnu Subroto, who is also deputy attorney general for intelligence, said a three-month evaluation against 55 Ahmadiyah communities across the country found the sect failed to commit to the 12 points of its public declaration signed in January.
“Bakor Pakem believes Ahmadiyah has continued to follow activities and interpretations that deviate from Islamic teachings,” the state-run Antara news agency quoted Subroto as saying.
One of the 12 points was an acknowledgment of Mohammed as the last prophet in Islam, instead of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, the Ahmadiyah group’s founder.
Some Muslim scholars criticized the board’s recommendation, saying that it could be used as a justification by radical groups to launch a fresh attack against Ahmadiyah group.
“The potential for violence against Ahmadiyah is very high now. Violence could become uncontrollable and widespread,” said Azumardi Azra, a noted Muslim scholar.
Human rights activists called the recommendation a violation of constitutional rights, and urged the state have to protect the sect’s members.
A spate of attacks on individuals, properties, mosques and the schools belonging to Ahmadiyah sect has occurred in recent years, followed by demands on the government to ban the group.
In late 2005, the Religious Affairs Ministry prohibited the Ahmadiyah from propagating its teachings after thousands of people grouped as the Indonesian Muslim Solidarity attacked and vandalized Ahmadiyah’s compounds in several locations, damaging or setting fire to several buildings.
The Indonesian Ulema Council, the country’s highest authority on Islam, in 2005 declared Ahmadiyah heretical for believing Mirza Ghulam Ahmad is the last prophet, not Mohammed, whom mainstream Muslims worldwide believe was God’s last messenger.
Ahmadiyah, or Jemaah Ahmadiyah Qadiyan, which was formed in Pakistan in the 19th century, is little known in Indonesia, with only an estimated 200,000 followers in the country.
About 88 per cent of Indonesia’s 220 million population is Muslim.