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Govt must protect Ahmadiyah, other minorities: Golkar
Ridwan Max Sijabat, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta
The government has a constitutional obligation to protect Ahmadiyah and other minority religious groups and must take action against violence directed against them, says a Golkar Party representative.
Speaking at a press conference at the end of the party’s three-day leadership meeting in Jakarta on Wednesday, Golkar’s patron board chair Akbar Tandjung said the government had no authority to interfere in Ahmadiyah’s internal affairs, including its religious teachings, and should take action against hard-line groups that burned down Ahmadiyah mosques and other buildings in several cities in the country.
“Our party has proposed a bill on religious freedom to help provide protection for all people, including minorities.”
“In the name of Pancasila — the state ideology — and the diversity of the nation, the government cannot prohibit Ahmadis from following their own teachings, which are different from the true Islam followed by the majority of Muslims. The government also has to guarantee Ahmadis their fundamental right to their faith,” he said.
Hard-line groups launched a string of attacks on Ahmadiyah followers and their buildings in Banten, West Java, and West Nusa Tenggara over the last several years. Ahmadis accept Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, instead of Muhammad, as their last prophet.
Hundreds of Islam Defenders Front (FPI) followers burned Ahmadi houses in Parung, Bogor, last month. Earlier, several hard-line groups sealed mosques belonging to Ahmadis in Kuningan, West Java, demanding the government disband the sect.
Despite the 2008 joint ministerial decree accepting Ahmadiyah’s existence, Religious Affairs Minister Suryadharma Ali asked Ahmadis to dissolve their sect and come back to the true Islam.
Golkar slammed the government for its slow response to the recent FPI assault on HKBP church ministers in Bekasi, West Java, and is determined to campaign for religious tolerance to counter increasing intolerance among Muslims.
Golkar chairman Aburizal Bakrie said his party, one of the nationalist parties, together with the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), the Greater Indonesian Movement Party (Gerindra) and the People’s Conscience Party (Hanura), was deeply concerned about the deterioration of national attachment towards Pancasila among the people.
The declining implementation of and respect for Pancasila has been demonstrated by the increase in social disharmony, increasing intolerance among the Muslim majority and increasing terrorism and the emergence of terrorist cells, said Aburizal.
When asked why Golkar had remained silent amid the government’s slow response to minority attacks, Aburizal said his party was not an executive body, although it was included in the pro-government coalition.
“Our party has proposed a bill on religious freedom to help provide protection for all people, including minorities,” he said.
Golkar and local party members in Banten, West Sumatra, South Sulawesi and West Nusa Tenggara have been involved in the issuance of sharia-inspired bylaws, as previously reported.