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April 03, 2009
Ahmadiyah Ploy By Islamic Parties
This week’s campaign sorties saw at least two Islamic parties try to boost their sagging popularity by calling for the government to outlaw Ahmadiyah, a controversial Islamic sect.
The Ahmadiyah, which has been in the country since 1920, has become a rallying point for Muslim hardliners since it was declared a deviant sect by the country’s highest authority on Islam, the Indonesian Council of Ulema, in 2008
Suryadharma Ali, the chairman of the United Development Party, or PPP, the country’s fourth largest party, addressing about 10,000 supporters at a party campaign rally here, called on the government to dissolve Ahmadiyah.
The call came as various l surveys showed that PPP’s popularity was on the wane and that Islamic political parties stood no chances against the secular nationalist ones in the April 9 legislative elections.
Another call for the dissolution of the group came from Yusril Ihza Mahendra, chairman of the supervisory council of the Crescent Star Party, or PBB, another party that had been singled out by surveys as facing a tough battle to win votes this year. Yusril, a former state secretary, told thousands of supporters during his party’s campaign rally in Padang, the capital of West Sumatra Province, that the president should disband Ahmadiyah and order it to form a new religion separate from Islam.
Komaruddin Hidayat, rector of the state-run Syarif Hidayatullah State Islamic University, said targeting Ahmadiyah as an enemy was not relevant to Indonesian voters at present.
“Campaigning for the elections is about offering ideas, not selling an issue to lure voters,” he said. Syamsuddin Haris, a political researcher for the Indonesian Institute of Sciences, or LIPI, said the use of Ahmadiyah in the parties’ campaigns was “stupid” and “unsuitable.”
“It will not be productive in attracting voters,” he said.