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Ahmadiyah refuses to be named new religion
Hans David Tampubolon and Andi Hajramurni, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta/ Makassar
As Ahmadis turned down a proposal that would declare them to be non-Muslims, hard-line groups ratcheted up their campaign in calling for the disbandment of the sect.
Responding to a proposal from the government and politicians that Ahmadiyah should be declared a new religion, Ahmadiyah spokesman Zafrullah Pontoh said it would be almost impossible for them to accept the proposal and they would continue to regard themselves as Muslims.
“Religion belongs to God. We don’t have the courage to deal with God if we have to build a new religion,” Zafrullah told The Jakarta Post.
Law and Human Rights Minister Patrialis Akbar said the government would discuss the possibility of requiring the Ahmadis to declare themselves to be non-Muslims.
The chairman of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s Democratic Party, Anas Urbaningrum, said that if the government could clarify the status of Ahmadiyah by declaring it a new religion, it would create a more positive perspective toward the sect.
“If we declare Ahmadiyah a ‘religion of Ahmadiyah’ and not Islam, then people would apply the principle of lakum dinukum waliyadin [to you your religion and to me mine]. It would create mutual respect.”
The new stance from Ahmadis will likely embolden radical groups which had called for the banning of the sect.
One of the staunchest supporters of the ban against Ahmadiyah, the Islam Defenders Front (FPI) took to the streets on Friday, giving an ultimatum to the government to disband the sect before March 1.
Joined by other Muslim groups including the Association of Islamic Students (HMI), FPI members rallied on the city’s main thoroughfares, repeating their previous demands.
“Either the government bans Ahmadiyah or we will wage a revolution,” said a group spokesman at the rally, Bernard Abdul Jabbar.
One of activists at the rally, Nurdiati Akma from the Koran Reciting Group (Forsap), called for the swift disbandment of Ahmadiyah, as its teachings had compromised the purity of Islam.
“Therefore, it is halal [allowed] for us to spill the blood of Ahmadis,” said Nurdiati, who is also a high-ranking politician from the National Mandate Party (PAN). Her call for spilling the blood of Ahmadis was quickly greeted with the chant, “Allahu Akbar [God is great],” from the crowd.
Meanwhile, in Makassar, South Sulawesi, FPI chairman Habib Rizieq swore that he would fight for the banning of Ahmadiyah until the very end.
“In the name of God, until the very last drop of my blood, I, along with my colleagues from other Islamic organizations, will continue fighting for the disbanding of Ahmadiyah in Indonesia. We will face any risk,” Rizieq said.
Responding to the mass rally from the hard-line group, coordinator for the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (KontraS) Usman Hamid said it was time for Yudhoyono to take a bolder stance against civilian organizations advocating violence and bent on rebelling against the country’s legitimate government.
“If these mass organizations are allowed to spread their violent ideas freely, then it will further threaten the nation’s constitutional integrity and pluralism,” Usman said.
Some in Yudhoyono’s inner circle, however, said that the government needed to express prudence when dealing with hard-line groups.
A member of Yudhoyono’s Democratic Party central board, Rachland Nashidik, said there was no need yet for the police to arrest the leaders of hard-line groups.