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Government to review Ahmadiyah joint decree
Arghea Desafti Hapsari and Theresia Sufa, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta/Bogor
In a bid to seek a “permanent solution” to the burning issue of Ahmadiyah, the government will review the controversial decree on the religious sect.
The director general of guidance to the Muslim community at the Religious Affairs Ministry, Nasaruddin Umar, said Sunday that there have been requests to “[assess] if the Ahmadis have actually complied with the [2008 joint ministerial] decree and whether the public in general have also done the same”. He added that the decree was bound not only to Ahmadis but also to people outside of the group.
Religious Affairs Minister Suryadharma Ali and Home Minister Gamawan Fauzi said last week they would meet to find a “permanent solution” to the Ahmadiyah problem. The talks are slated to start Monday.
The plan came on the heels of an arson attack on Ahmadis’ houses and places of worship in Ciampea village in the West Java regency of Bogor on Friday night.
Rafendi Djamin, Indonesia’s representative to ASEAN’s Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights, said the talks would likely“lead to justifying a ban” on the religious sect.
“This is apparent from the fact that the government, through the Attorney General’s Office and the Religious Affairs Ministry, still supports the Indonesian Ulema Council’s interpretation of Islam.
Besides, the minister himself has time and again given his personal stance to disband the Ahmadiyah.”
Suryadharma has said Ahmadiyah “must be disbanded immediately” because it violated the decree, which states that Ahmadiyah cannot propagate its teachings. Jamaah Ahmadiyah, which has about 200,000 followers in Indonesia, has been the target of attacks from hard-line Islamic groups who demand that the sect be banned.
A mosque, five houses, a car and two motorcycles were burnt in the latest in a string of attacks on Ahmadis. On Sunday, the daughter of former president Abdurrahman Wahid, Inayah Wahid and the chairman of the National Commission on Children Protection, Seto Mulyadi visited the Ahmadi enclave.
Inayah said that whoever committed attacks on the minorities did not represent Muslims but only some people who wanted to destroy other beliefs. The attackers’ actions, she said, is based on “little knowledge of their religion” and “their own fears.” “I’m representing the Wahid family to show our support for the minority who are under attack,” she said. Lawmaker Gayus Lumbuun from the House of Representatives’ Commission III overseeing legal affairs expressed his concerns over “people who no longer have any regard for the law”.
“This is a tremendous threat to the nation’s unity,” he said, adding that both the religious affairs minister and home minister were responsible for the violence on Ahmadis. He promised to pool support from other House commissions to summon the ministers. “Warnings against them are useless. We will hold them responsible.”
He also said the talks should involve the National Commission on Human Rights, the National Commission on Violence against Women, interfaith groups and civil society groups that advocate on religious freedom. The deputy chairman of the Setara Institute for Peace and Democracy, Bonar Tigor Naipospos, said: “The talks should definitely involve Ahmadiyah members. There is no way the government can make a decision without taking the subject at hand into account.”
He urged the government to raise the awareness of followers of mainstream religions to show more tolerance to the minorities. “It is high time that tolerance comes from the majority,” he added.