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Ahmadiyah decree ‘bans propagation, not private prayer’
Erwida Maulia and Andi Hajramurni, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta, Makassar
Members of Islamic sect Jamaah Ahmadiyah Indonesia (JAI) are banned from propagating their religious teachings, but are allowed to maintain their faith and perform their daily religious duties, the government said Friday.
Head of the Religious Affairs Ministry’s research and development division, Atho Mudzar, said a joint ministerial decree issued Monday restricts Ahmadiyah followers from “spreading interpretations and activities deviating from basic teachings of Islam, i.e. interpretations that acknowledge new prophecy after that of Prophet Muhammad”.
“They are not banned from performing other religious activities. They can still conduct daily prayers, visit their mosques, organize blood drives and so on. There’s no problem with that,” Atho told a press conference at the Information and Communications Ministry.
He said no special team would be formed to ensure the compliance of Ahmadiyah members with the decree.
“We’ll let the public act as the watchdog. They can file reports to law enforcers whenever they see JAI followers violate the decree. Whether or not the latter are guilty of violations will be decided by the courts,” Atho said.
He underlined that the decree also threatened punishment for anyone committing violence against Ahmadiyah followers or their property.
“The decree prevents JAI from spreading their deviant teachings and protects them from being attacked by other groups in the community,” he said.
The decree does not apply to members of the Indonesian Ahmadiyah Movement (GAI), who regard Ahmadiyah founder Mirza Ghulam Ahmad as merely a Muslim reformer.
Responding to accusations the decree violates the Constitution and its guarantee of freedom of religion, Atho said the decree had a legal basis that made it constitutional.
In Makassar, dozens of members of the South Sulawesi Muslim Community Alliance rallied Friday to demand that Ahmadiyah followers cease all activities, in accordance with the joint decree.
They urged the government to dissolve Ahmadiyah for its “deviant” teachings and called for its members to “return to the pure Islam”.
“If they don’t want to dissolve, they should then form their own religion. Don’t claim to be Muslims while we have different teachings,” said rally coordinator Ismail Hamzah.
The group also demanded the South Sulawesi branch of Jamaah Ahmadiyah Indonesia remove signboards from outside its mosques, while urging the police to release Islam Defenders Front chairman Habib Rizieq Shihab and Islam Command Troop chief Munarman from detention.