Religious Persecution of Ahmadiyya Muslim Community
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Home Worldwide Indonesia April, 2008 Thousands demand …
Thousands demand Ahmadiyah disband

Headline News April 20, 2008 

Thousands demand Ahmadiyah disband

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Several thousand Muslim hard-liners staged a peaceful rally at the National Monument (Monas) on Sunday, demanding the government issue a decree to disband the “deviant” Islamic sect Jamaah Ahmadiyah.

They threatened to disband the sect themselves should President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono fail to issue such a decree soon.

The government has no right to disband a religion and a faith adhered to by its citizens. It must instead protect them in practicing their ritual activities - Syarief

The demonstrators, from several hard-line groups such as the Islam Defenders Front (FPI) and Hizbut Tahrir Indonesia (HTI), began a protest outside the presidential office at around 10 a.m. after marching from the nearby Istiqlal Mosque.

A crowd of white-clad children, women and men waved flags that read, “No more bargaining, ban Ahmadiyah”, while strolling through the street.

The men wore vests and jackets inscribed with the groups’ names, such as FPI, HTI and the Rempoa Betawi Forum. They marched and chanted, “No to Ahmadiyah” and “Allahu Akbar (God is great)”.

In front of the presidential office, some protesters rolled out blankets and made picnics inside the Monas compound while their leaders took turns making speeches.

“Ahmadiyah members have violated our human rights by disturbing our practice of Islam! They are trying to poison our minds with this new prophet nonsense,” a protest leader told the clamoring crowd.

“If in one month, the President does not come up with a presidential decree to ban Ahmadiyah, we will disband them ourselves,” said another.

The government last Thursday said it was preparing a joint decree to outlaw Ahmadiyah following a recommendation by its Coordinating Board for Monitoring Mystical Beliefs in Society (Bakor Pakem).

The board, comprising senior officials of the Attorney General’s Office, the National Police, the Religious Affairs Ministry and the Home Ministry, ruled Wednesday that Ahmadiyah failed to commit to the 12-point declaration it signed in January.

The declaration acknowledged mainstream Islamic teachings and abandoned the sect’s “deviant” beliefs, including recognizing Mirza Gulam Ahmad, not Muhammad, as the last prophet in Islam.

Ahmadiyah lawyer Asfinawati said the President should not respond to threats and instead abide by the Constitution by upholding freedom of religion.

“The President must not be afraid of a posse or risk people’s uncertainty of the law, which would only create chaos,” she said.

Ahmadiyah, believed to have 200,000 followers in Indonesia, has also faced persecution in other Muslim countries.

The Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) gave backing for the government to dissolve Ahmadiyah. The Islamic party called on the sect to cease claiming to be part of Islam if it wanted to avert religious persecution.

Support for Ahmadiyah, which has often been the target of attacks across the country, came from some moderate clerics of Nahdlatul Ulama (NU).

NU deputy leader Masdar Farid Mas’udi asked all sides to respect the Constitution that mandates the state to protect the right of its citizens to practice their religions according to their own beliefs.

“It is worrying that the tendency of sectarianism is not declining but instead increasing among Muslims accompanied with theological, political and even physical violence,” he said.

He said the Koran suggested Muslims hold “elegant dialogues” with those they called deviant to ask them to return to the right path.

“If they still refuse, leave it to God as the owner of the absolute truth. No one can claim to hold the absolute truth and force it onto others by any means.”

A number of other senior NU clerics in West Java voiced opposition to a plan to ban Ahmadiyah during a meeting Sunday in the Kempek Islamic boarding school, Cirebon.

Those in attendance included Syarief Usman Yahya, Hasanudin Iman, Taufiqurahman, Syarief Abdubakar, Aziz Hakim Syaerozi and KH Ihyaulumuddin.

The clerics said the ban on Ahmadiyah would be against the Constitution and an unjust action against its followers.

“The government has no right to disband a religion and a faith adhered to by its citizens. It must instead protect them in practicing their ritual activities,” Syarief said.

He warned dissolving Ahmadiyah would spark a communal conflict that could lead to national disintegration. (anw)

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