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Ahmadiyah Again Faces Minister’s Call for a Ban
Camelia Pasandaran | September 08, 2010
Jakarta. Ignoring the outrage of rights activists, the religious affairs minister on Tuesday reiterated his belief that an outright ban on Ahmadiyah would be good for both the country and the sect.
Suryadharma Ali said the government had two options: maintain the restrictions on the group’s activities, or ban Ahmadiyah. A ban, he said, would protect group members from attack and also help bring them into the fold of mainstream Islam.
“The government can let them be or ban them. Both carry risks,” he said. “To let them be is not regulated by our laws, but we can ban them because we have regulations for this.”
The minister, who last week caused an uproar by saying Ahmadiyah should be banned because the group had angered mainstream Muslims, was referring to the 1965 Blasphemy Law and a joint decree issued in 2008 by the religious affairs and home affairs ministries, and the Attorney General’s Office, restricting the group’s religious activities.
The decree stopped short of banning the sect but prohibited Ahmadiyah followers from publicly practicing their faith and from proselytizing.
“Banning Ahmadiyah, in my opinion, is not an act of hatred or enmity, it is an act of love and care for all our brothers across the nation. To ban them is far better than to let them be,” Suryadharma said.
“To outlaw them would mean that we are working hard to stop deviant acts from continuing. It is better for us to take the hard steps now and, God willing, all will be well.”
According to Suryadharma, all Ahmadis want to follow mainstream Islam, and therefore “it is the duty of every Islamic figure to take them in, teach them the correct way of the religion.”
The minister also said that until a ban was enacted, Ahmadiyah followers would continue to be targets for violent attacks by hard-line groups.
“Why don’t you study the reactions toward the Ahmadiyah?” he said. “We believe such harsh reactions are because there are rules that are not being followed.”
Ahmadiyah followers have been the target of numerous attacks by hard-line Muslim groups, with authorities being accused of failing to take steps to protect sect members.
Rights activists have said the minister’s comments could be construed by hard-liners as justification for more attacks on the group. Suryadharma, however, said that, in principle, there should be no violence.
Founded in India in 1889, Ahmadiyah holds that the group’s founder, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, was a prophet — a belief that goes against mainstream Islam, which holds that Muhammad was the last prophet.
Said Aqil Siradj, chairman of Nahdlatul Ulama, the country’s largest Muslim organization with an estimated 40 million members, last week urged caution against banning Ahmadiyah.
“Ahmadiyah has been in Indonesia since 1925. Why is it being made a problem now?” he said. “This is not a local organization, it is present in 102 countries around the globe.”.