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Govt team wants sect banned
Muhammad Nafik and Abdul Khalik, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta
Muslim scholars have warned extremist groups will renew attacks on Jamaah Ahmadiyah following a recommendation the government ban the “deviant” Islamic sect.
The recommendation was issued Wednesday by the Coordinating Board for Monitoring Mystical Beliefs in Society (Bakor Pakem). The board is made up of senior officials from the Attorney General’s Office, the Religious Affairs Ministry, the Home Ministry and the National Police.
Deputy attorney general for intelligence Wisnu Subroto, who leads the board, said his team’s three-month evaluation of 55 Ahmadiyah communities across the country found the sect failed to commit to the 12 points of its public declaration signed in January.
The declaration included acknowledging the Prophet Muhammad, instead of Mirza Gulam Ahmad, as the last prophet in Islam, as believed by mainstream Muslims worldwide.
On Jan. 15, the Bakor Pakem gave Ahmadiyah three months to prove its 12-point statement regarding faith and social values was not contradictory to Islamic values.
“Bakor Pakem believes Ahmadiyah has continued to follow activities and interpretations that deviate from Islamic teachings. As a consequence, it has caused unrest and conflict within society,” Wisnu said.
Islamic scholars and civil society organizations warned the recommendation could spark further attacks on thousands of Ahmadiyah followers by militant Muslim groups across the country.
Former Muhammadiyah chairman Syafii Ma’arif said the decision by Bakor Pakem would be used as a “justification” by extremist groups to attack Ahmadiyah again.
“The state must protect them as they are still Indonesian citizens. If we fail to do so, we will end up as an uncivilized country,” he told The Jakarta Post.
Azyumardi Azra, former Syarif Hidayatullah State Islamic University rector and current deputy secretary to Vice President Jusuf Kalla, also lashed out at the decision.
“The potential for violence against Ahmadiyah is very high now,” he told the Post.
“Violence could become uncontrollable and widespread given the current political tension during local direct elections around the country.”
He said the decision showed the “victory of extremist groups” over moderate ones in the world’s largest Muslim nation.
“The recommendation will damage Indonesia’s reputation in protecting religious freedom domestically and internationally. The UN rights body is watching this issue,” Azyumardi said.
Ahmadiyah members across the country have often been the targets of violence and death threats during the past several years. According to media reports last month, members have received death threats from hard-line groups.
A videotape screened by human rights groups last week showed Islam Defenders Front (FPI) secretary general Sobri Lubis urging followers to kill Ahmadiyah members.
“We will wage war against Ahmadiyah! Kill Ahmadiyah! Kill! Kill! Kill!” Sobri says to applause from those attending his sermon.
“And if they say we are violating human rights, then I say damn human rights.”
The Setara Institute, an NGO focusing on multiculturalism, condemned the decision by Bakor Pakem as a violation of constitutional rights.
“Bakor Pakem has no right to forbid people’s beliefs. By banning Ahmadiyah, (President) Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and (Vice President) Jusuf Kalla have violated the Constitution. They should be held responsible,” Setara chairman Hendardi said.
The Indonesian Ulema Council declared Ahmadiyah heretical in 2005 for believing Mirza Ghulam Ahmad is the last prophet, not Muhammad.
All the extremist groups – the FPI, the Islamic Ulema Forum and the Indonesian Mujahidin Council – have denounced Ahmadiyah and criticized the government for allowing the sect to exist.