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Indonesia: Jakarta Cracks Down On ‘Deviant’ Islamic Sect
JAKARTA, INDONESIA: Indonesia has banned the Ahmadiyah religious group from practising in the country, describing it as a deviant sect.
Wednesday’s (16 Apr) ruling by the country’s Attorney-General also said it would recommend that the Jemaah Ahmadiyah Indonesia (JAI) be disbanded if its members persisted in their activities.
But the country’s highest religious authority, the Indonesian Ulama Council (MUI), yesterday insisted the ruling did not go far enough. It has thus renewed its fatwa that the Ahmadi sect is outside the fold of Islam and should be banned totally in the country.
The Attorney-General’s ruling came after the expiry of a three-month probation period that required the Ahmadis to prove that they believe in the same Islamic teachings as other Muslims.
Assistant Attorney-General Whisnu Subroto announced the decision at a press conference, saying: “All Ahmadiyah followers must cease their religious activities with immediate effect.”
This is because they have not proven themselves to be followers of orthodox Islam, and also because the sect is causing restlessness in the Muslim community, he said.
“If they continue their activities, we would recommend the disbandment of their movement in the country.”
A spokesman for JAI, Mr Mubarik Ahmad, told The Straits Times that the ban was nonsensical and denied the group members their constitutional right as Indonesian citizens to practise their religion.
“They wanted to ban us from performing all religious activities. But we are going to fight it out in all courts of law in this country and abroad,” he said.
He maintains that Ahmadis believe in the same religion as other Muslims and interpret the Quran in the same manner.
“Only the Indonesian president can disband our movement,” he said.
Several religious groups have been calling for the Ahmadiyah movement to be banned.
The government has resisted the calls, as Indonesia is a secular state where religious freedoms are protected by the Constitution.
The Islamic groups have argued that the Muslim community could not accept the Ahmadis because they deny the fundamental Islamic belief that the Prophet Muhammad was the last prophet.
The sect believes that Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, who founded the sect in 1889 in India’s Punjab state, was a prophet who came after Prophet Muhammad.
Introduced in Indonesia in 1925 by Indian missionaries, the sect has an estimated 500,000 followers in Indonesia.
The Attorney-General’s decision yesterday may not go far enough to satisfy the demands of Islamic groups, which want the movement to be banned totally and disbanded.
MUI argues that the sect is not recognised as Islamic by Muslim scholars worldwide. It points out that a gathering of religious leaders in Mecca in 1974 had confirmed the ruling, and that it has been adopted by all Muslim countries.
For many years, the presence of the sect was tolerated in Indonesia. But in recent years, Muslims have been angered by the sect’s high profile and the growing number of Muslims going over to the Ahmadis.
Also in recent years, angry mobs have started attacking the sect’s religious centres, citing the MUI fatwa as justification.
A Muslim leader who declined to be named said: “Banning the Ahmadis from performing their religious activities is not good enough as the group would continue to exist.” (By SALIM OSMAN/ The Philippines Daily Inquirer/ANN)