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Minister urges sect followers to stop spreading faith
Ridwan Max Sijabat and Dicky Christanto, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta
Religious Affairs Minister Suryadharma Ali called Ahmadiyah apostate to Islamic teaching and said followers should stop propagating their faith.
“It’s clear from a 2008 joint ministerial decree that Ahmadiyah is not a religion and can be categorized as deviant to Islam. Therefore [Ahmadiyah] followers had better stop their activities,” the minister said.
Suryadharma also warned the public against resorting to violence in dealing with the “issue” as occurred on Thursday in Kuningan, West Java.
“The government will not tolerate any use of violence in dealing with sectarianism and all religious communities have to abide by the law to maintain order and security,” he said in Jakarta, after inaugurating the Al-Jabr International Islamic Junior High School in Pondok Labu, South Jakarta, on Friday.
Hundreds of members of hard-line Muslim organizations clashed with Ahmadiyah followers at Manis Lor village in Kuningan regency. The attackers demanded Ahmadiyah be banned. Three people were injured and several houses were damaged in the clashes.
Suryadharma said civil society groups and mass organizations had no authority enforcing the law but were required to report any disturbances of order and security to the police.
He said that despite their similar roots, Ahmadiyah and Islam were different because Ahmadiyah did not recognize Muhammad as the last prophet “and this is really a betrayal of true Islamic teaching”.
The minister said the government would soon enforce a 2008 joint ministerial decree on Ahmadiyah with the help of the police because it had not been effective since being issued.
He said the government would rely on the police to enforce the decree when asked whether the government and the police would crack down on Ahmadiyah followers and close down their houses of worship.
National Police spokesman Insp. Gen. Edward Aritonang said police would remain neutral in handling the incident and enforcing the decree.
“Our concern is solely to prevent any clashes and bloodshed to maintain order and security,” Edward said Friday.
He said 500 security officers were deployed to monitor negotiations between the local administration and Ahmadiyah leaders in the village.
The Setara Institute for Democracy and Peace condemned the attack on Ahmadiyah followers and the forced closure of their mosque in Kuningan, and called on authorities to end the use of violence against the minority group. “The use of violence will not solve the dispute,” Setara deputy chairman Bonar Tigor Naipospos said Friday.
There remains a heavy police presence around Manis Lor village, where 3,000 of the 4,350 residents are followers of Ahmadiyah.
“We feel safe with the security personnel around and we are very grateful for that,” Deden Sujana, who heads Ahmadiyah’s security commission, said.
— Nana Rukmana contributed to the story from Kuningan, West Java.