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Best to Disband Ahmadiyah, Religious Minister Says
Fitri | February 28, 2011
Minister Suryadharma Ali meeting with top religious leaders in Lombok, Mataram, on Sunday. At the meeting, the minister said he was in favor of banning Ahmadiyah but that religious leaders, not the government, had the power to make such a decision happen. (JG Photo/Fitri)
Mataram, West Nusa Tenggara. Religious Affairs Minister Suryadharma Ali told a gathering of Islamic leaders on Sunday that the Ahmadiyah sect should be outlawed, but that the government did not have the power to make the decision.
To shouts of “Disband Ahmadiyah” from an audience that included the heads of about 500 Islamic boarding schools and the leaders of at least nine Islamic organizations, the minister seemed to urge religious leaders to take the lead in pushing for the minority Islamic sect to be disbanded.
“We [the government] do not have the right to disband Ahmadiyah,” he said. “That right lies in the hands of you esteemed ulema. We, the government, only have the right to regulate and control, not to disband or excommunicate.”
Suryadharma told the audience in Mataram, Lombok, which included leaders from the Indonesian Council of Ulema (MUI), Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), Muhammadiyah and Hizbut Tahrir, that MUI branches across the country had declared Ahmadiyah a deviant sect.
On those grounds, he said, any request by religious leaders to have the sect disbanded was reasonable and had his approval.
The minister’s statement came on the same day that Habib Rizieq, leader of the hard-line Islamic Defenders Front (FPI), called on Muslims nationwide to attend a march on Tuesday demanding the banning of Ahmadiyah.
In a sermon in Jakarta, Rizieq invited Muslims from across Indonesia to attend a rally at the Hotel Indonesia traffic circle in Jakarta to protest the sect.
Suryadharma said the government had not issued an official statement in regard to banning Ahmadiyah, but that he would favor any proposal to outlaw the sect.
“I admit that the government has not issued any such statement,” he said. “However, I personally am of the opinion that it would be best if Ahmadiyah was disbanded. In this case, there lies a question: If we let them be, will the problem eventually be resolved? And if we disband them, will the problem go away?
“If we leave them the way the are, the problem will only become much bigger. Ahmadiyah deserves to be disbanded.
“Once they are disbanded, harmony will be guaranteed. I have pushed members of Ahmadiyah to form a new sect that is devoid of any and all attributes of Islam, not to ever use the word or symbol of the mosque in any of their prayer halls, and never to accept the Koran as their holy book if they call themselves Ahmadiyah. My preference would be that they all leave Ahmadiyah and follow the right path by entering into Islam.”
He also urged religious leaders in the audience to work harder to bring what he called the “correct” teachings of Islam to isolated corners of the country, to prevent deviant sects from flourishing in those areas. He then posed a question for those supporting the rights of Ahmadis.
“ The problem now is that those who oppose Ahmadiyah are fighting against those campaigning for religious freedom,” he said. “If we work toward disbanding [Ahmadiyah], those fighting for religious freedom will accuse the government of getting in the way of religious freedom.
“So my question is, does religious freedom mean the freedom to insult someone else’s religion and rewrite the teachings of someone’s religion?”