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Editorial: Ahmadiyah: State terrorism
The Jakarta Post
The murder of three Ahmadiyah followers in Banten on Sunday is a concrete example of state-sponsored terrorism against the country’s own citizens. With the full — very sorry to say — backing of the state, bloody oppression and even the butchering of Indonesians will continue to haunt us. This street-side persecution of those with different views, faiths or backgrounds than the majority by those with swords in their hands will continue and even spread to other parts of society, and may do so without reason or pretext.
All Indonesians, regardless of what group they belong to, should consider the killing of Ahmadis in Banten an emergency beacon, because such extremely discriminatory treatment could also happen to them in a different form or at a different time. What if other religions also had similarly violent responses to different sects or religions just because they differed from the mainstream?
But, is this state terrorism? The Religious Affairs Ministry officially declared Ahmadiyah defiant of Islam and urged Ahmadis to repent. Yet the government was quick to criticize the killings on Sunday in Pandeglang, Banten. Every time Ahmadiyah followers are harassed or expelled from areas the government routinely expresses its regret and vows to conduct a thorough investigation.
If state officials are honest enough to listen to their own consciences, then they will admit that state-supported discrimination has been developing rapidly in this country.
We would like to remind President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, as the head of state, of his constitutional obligation to protect all Indonesian citizens regardless of their faith, ethnicity or ideology, and to ensure equal treatment for all the shareholders and stakeholders in this nation.
We strongly defend the right of Ahmadiyah to exist, not because we share or agree with their ideology, but purely because our Constitution guarantees freedom of religion and freedom of expression. The state should not allow the prosecution and criminalization of citizens just because of their personal beliefs.
To be honest, there is little hope the President will be determined enough to say “enough is enough” to those who attempt to impose street justice. The President, his ministers and other state officials will certainly defend their “do nothing” position on minorities.
Hundreds of churches have been forced to close or were burned down in this country. But, it is just a matter of time before a similar thing happens in other areas where Islam is a minority religion.
Mosques will not be allowed to open or Muslims will find it difficult to practice their faith. The majority — not just in terms of religious belief — will force the minority to follow their ways or else face brutal treatment.
But, we should also remember what history has shown us. The more minority groups are oppressed, the more creative they will become to ensure their survival. Oppression can often be a blessing in disguise for those who are hunted down because they are different from people who think they command absolute truths. It is not difficult to find examples like this in our world.
It is distressing that Ahmadis have had to face state-sponsored terrorism just because their personal faith is not recognized by the state. And, what is even more tragic, our head of state is reluctant to carry out his constitutional obligation to protect the country’s citizens as he vowed to do in his oath of office.