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Home Worldwide Indonesia April, 2008 Government remains …
Government remains silent on sect

Headlines Tue, 04/29/2008 12:39 PM 

Government remains silent on sect

Desy Nurhayati and Wahyoe Boediwardhana, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta, Malang

The government has maintained its silence on Ahmadiyah two weeks after a coordinating board of top government officials recommended a ban against the Islamic sect for “heresy”.

State Secretary Hatta Radjasa denied the government was being indecisive about the controversy, which turned violent Monday when a mob burned down an Ahmadiyah mosque in the West Java town of Sukabumi.

“I don’t think we are hesitant. The officials are still drafting a joint decree,” Hatta said, referring to the Coordinating Board for Monitoring Mystical Beliefs in Society (Bakor Pakem), which comprises officials from the Home Ministry, Religious Affairs Ministry and Attorney General’s Office.

He said the President had not yet discussed the issue because he was waiting for the team to submit its recommendation.

“The three officials have not reported to the President. We will just let them finalize the draft,” Hatta said. “We hope the officials draft a decree that benefits everyone.”

He refused to comment on the Presidential Advisory Council, which reportedly has suggested the President reject the Ahmadiyah ban.

“In compliance with the law, I cannot comment about the advisory council,” he said.

Asked about Yudhoyono’s private view on the controversy over the Islamic sect, Hatta said: “The President has not said anything about Ahmadiyah.”

The President’s inaction has drawn concern from the National Commission on Human Rights, particularly after Monday’s violence targeting the Ahmadiyah mosque.

Deputy commission chairman Ridha Saleh said the rights body wrote to the President, the home minister, the attorney general and the National Police chief on Monday, calling on them to take immediate action to protect Ahmadiyah members.

“We urged the government to take concrete measures to ensure these acts of violence will not recur. The state is responsible for protecting all citizens from any threats and fears,” Ridha told The Jakarta Post.

The rights commission also asked the government to initiate a dialogue “until a certainty is reached”, Ridha said.

He refused to go into detail, saying the rights body had set up a team to investigate the arson attack in Sukabumi.

Those supporting an Ahmadiyah ban include a group of Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) clerics, who urged the President during his visit to the East Java town of Pasuruan on Sunday to issue a decree outlawing the minority Islamic group.

“Ahmadiyah has misled Muslim congregates and done the religion harm. The President should issue a regulation to ban Ahmadiyah,” leading NU cleric Mas Subadar said.

He said all NU clerics across East Java were united against Ahmadiyah.

“Those who support Ahmadiyah are not with us,” said Subadar, who was among the Islamic clerics who issued a legal opinion in 1999 saying women could not serve as president and who supported an edict against liberal thought in Islam.

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