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Government Supports Ahmadiyah Ban in East Java
Camelia Pasandaran | March 01, 2011
East Java Governor Soekarwo, right, issued a decree on Monday to ban Ahmadiyah in the province. The central government showed its support for the decree on Tuesday. (AFP Photo)
The central government on Tuesday supported moves by the East Java governor to ban Ahmadiyah in the province.
“It is regional head’s authority and [Ahmadiyah] has long been banned everywhere,” said Justice and Human Rights Minister Patrialis Akbar said at the presidential palace before the cabinet meeting.
Patrialis emphasized the joint ministerial decree that strongly warns Ahmadiyah followers against spreading their beliefs.
“So if they did spread it, the local government may take action,” he said.
Ahmadiyah, an Islamic sect, has long been the at the center of a dispute between human rights activists that support its existence and Islamic hard-liners that want it disbanded.
East Java Governor Soekarwo recently released a decree to totally ban the sect in East Java. Under the decree, Ahmadiyah followers are banned from spreading their beliefs through any forms of media and are forbidden to display the sects name in public and mosques.
The move has gained supported by the Indonesian Council of Ulema (MUI), which stated that the ban was necessary to stem demonstrations against the sect.
The minister said that by spreading their beliefs, Ahmadis had triggered conflict in many places throughout the country.
“Religious freedom should not be translated into desecration of religion,” Patrialis said. “Freedom to believe in a certain religion should not be banned. However, people should not believe in a religion and carry out its beliefs in different way to that religion. Ahmadiyah has tainted religion.”
Home Affairs Minister Gawaman Fauzi said that banning Ahmadiyah was allowed as long as it did not contradict a higher regulation.
“We will evaluate it,” Gamawan said.