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Ahmadiyah banned in S. Sumatra amid pressure
Khairul Saleh, The Jakarta Post, Palembang
Bowing to pressure from radical organizations, South Sumatra administration on Monday officially banned Ahmadiyah, an Islamic sect considered heretical, in the province.
“We firmly decided Ahmadiyah would be prohibited in the province because the sect is not compatible with Islamic teachings,” Acting Governor Mahyudin NS told reporters after holding a meeting to discuss the sect.
The meeting was attended by officials from the provincial offices of the Religious Affairs Ministry, prosecutors, representatives from the Indonesian Ulemas Council (MUI) and other Islamic organizations as well as academics from Palembang-based Raden Fatah State Islamic Institute.
Mahyuddin claimed the decision had a strong legal basis because, he said, the central government had also banned Ahmadiyah.
“The decision to ban Ahmadiyah is permanent and can not be reviewed because it is based on valid regulations,” Mahyuddin said.
Earlier, several conservative organizations under the Islamic People’s Forum (FUI), such as Hizbuth Tahrir Indonesia, Islam Defenders Front and the Indonesian Mujahidin Council, demanded the dissolution of the Ahmadiyah sect.
FUI South Sumatra chairman Umar Said said the forum fully supported the governor’s decision to ban the sect which was founded by Mirza Ghulam Ahmad.
“So South Sumatra is the second province after West Sumatra to ban Ahmadiyah,” Umar said.
There are at least 600 Ahmadiyah followers in the province, including 200 members in Palembang, with nine mosques in cities and regencies including Palembang, Burnai Burlian, Pematang Panggung, Sungai Bungi, Lahat, Lubuk Linggau, Ogan Komering Ilir and Banyuasin.
Most of the Ahmadiyah followers in South Sumatra are of Javanese ethnic descent, and had originally been relocated to these areas through the government-sanctioned transmigration program.
Ahmadiyah believers have become the target of protests and violence (conducted by militants) allegedly due to a religious edict issued by the MUI which declared the sect heretical.
Mosques and properties belonging to Ahmadiyah followers in several areas, including in Bogor (West Java) and Mataram (West Nusa Tenggara) were destroyed by protesters.
MUI said the Ahmadiyah teachings, that Ghulam Ahmad is a prophet of Islam, defy one of the basic doctrines of the religion – that Muhammad is the last prophet of Islam.
On June 9, the Religious Affairs Ministry, the Home Ministry and the Attorney General’s Office issued a decree banning Ahmadiyah members from spreading their beliefs.
The decree came the same day as thousands of hard-liners gathered in front of the State Palace in Jakarta to demand the dissolution of Ahmadiyah.