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Pakistanization of Indonesia?
Moh Yasir Alimi, Canberra
The anti-Ahmadiyah decrees in Pandeglang West Java and most recently in East Java have incited fears among many hearts that the country is heading towards “Pakistanization”.
Pakistan is “a laboratory of abuse in the name of religion” and Pakistan’s path of intense religious violence began with an anti-Ahmadiyah ordinance.
In 1984, president Zia ul Haq adopted Ordinance XX to criminalize the activities of Ahmadiyah followers. Pakistan used to argue that banning Ahmadiyah or declaring Ahmadiyah as non-Muslims would eliminate violence against Ahmadiyah and would stabilize the country.
The argument, now commonly used by Islamic hardliners and certain state officials in Indonesia, is nonsense, however.
The reality in Pakistan demonstrates this. A country built upon egalitarian values, Pakistan is now a place devastated by religious vigilantes, a place suffocated by the rancid smell of blood, a place where Ahmadiyah, Islamic sects and religious minorities are persecuted, a place where bombings take place every day, weakening the power of the nation to build.
In its current state, Pakistan is a failed state. The Human Rights Watch records that after the Ordinance XX declaration of Ahmadiyah followers as non-Muslims in 1984, the persecution of Ahmadiyah has significantly increased.
Like in Pakistan, the decrees in West Java and East Java will criminalize the religious activities of Ahmadiyah and will embolden religious extremists to further persecute Ahmadiyah followers. The ordinances look like a license to kill. As ideas never die, violence continues.
The experience of Pakistan demonstrated that such a cruel regulation bolstered religious vigilantism and weakened the state’s commitment to the constitution, the fundamental values upon which the nation was built.
The result is frightening. A country built upon egalitarian values, like Pakistan, can shift into a place of religious violence. Ali Jinnah, the founding father, was an ardent democrat, and he founded Pakistan on consensual and pluralistic grounds and belief that general supremacy would prevail rather than that of Islam per se. What is left of those ideals?
Pakistan’s experience showed that following the issuance of the regulation the violence against Ahmadiyah would pattern in many forms: murder before the police, mosque attacks, expulsions of Ahmadis from many state universities, more widespread violence, exclusion of Ahmadis from votes, arson attacks on their homes, businesses and mosques, desecration of their graves and more.
Ordinance XX in fact does not only criminalize “the religious activities” of Ahmadiyah, but also “the everyday life” of Ahmadiyah followers.
Then, the effects will go beyond the Ahmadiyah followers; the vigilante will reach other Islamic groups and government officials that they think are different or not in line with their agendas.
For example, a governor with moderate voice, Salman Taseer, was killed early this year because he criticized the blasphemy law which he regarded as a “black rule” inconsistent with the national constitution of Pakistan.
We fear that Indonesia can fall in the same situation. Indonesia is a nation with diversity, which is also reflected in the diversity of its Islamic religious practices.
There are many religious practices considered as bid’ah (innovation), widely practiced by Indonesian Muslims. After Ahmadiyah, it is only a matter of time before these homeland religious practices will be persecuted.
What are the other possible consequences? As the state fails to protect its citizens, many groups in society will create their own paramilitary armies to protect themselves. We can predict the consequence of such a situation.
Therefore, not only are the ordinances in West Java and East Java a blatant violation of international human rights law, the Constitution, the dreams of our founding fathers, but they will threaten our national security and the existence of the nation.
In the long run, the decree will surely strengthen religious vigilantes and weaken the power of the state. There will be more religious and political insecurity.
The decree is also against the fundamental principles of Islam (adh-dhoruriyyatul khomsah): hifdhu ad-din (to protect the freedom of faith), hifd an-nafs (to protect life), hifdh al-aql (to protect the freedom of expression), hifd an-nasb (to protect the sustainability of human being) and hifd al-mal (to protect the rights of property).
For religious and security reason, the central government, particularly the Home Ministry, should evaluate the regional ordinances to stop the march of “Pakistanization”.
Diversity remains the most valuable property the state leaders at any level could have. The central government should ensure that state apparatuses at many levels do not violate the National Constitution, and should embody diversity consciousness. It is the vein of modern Indonesia and the reason of our existence.
Indonesia has its own cultural characteristics and should not follow the dangerous path of Pakistan. History tells that a country built upon egalitarian vision can become a hotbed of religious violence when diversity consciousness is not nurtured, and when its officials lose sight of its founding fathers’ ideals.
The United Nations Sub-Commission on the Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities has called on the Commission on Human Rights to pressure the Government of Pakistan to repeal Ordinance XX. It is ironic that Indonesia adopts such a regulation.
Like the case in Pakistan, religious clerics are also involved in the mobilization of anti-Ahmadiyah laws. To those clerics, I invite them to renew our faith in God, the Merciful (rahman) and the Compassionate (rahim). The clerics need to embody these two attributes of God, or else they will be spiritually impoverished.
The deepest moral crises take place when religious leaders do not embody rahman rahim in themselves or when they begin to see other people merely from their outer dress, not from their inner humanity. When these two characteristics are absent, the blessings of God will leave us.
The writer is a lecturer at Semarang State University (UNNES), a former coordinator of Majelis Kataman Quran Canberra Australia.