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Jakarta will not outlaw Ahmadiyah: Governor
Andreas D. Arditya and Bagus BT Saragih, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta
As more regional governments stepped up their campaigns against the Ahmadiyah sect, Jakarta Governor Fauzi Bowo backtracked from his declaration about banning members of the sect from publicly practicing their faith, saying that no new action would be taken against the group.
“The Jakarta administration has decided that religious issues are regulated under the joint ministerial decree. The city government is only responsible for maintaining security and order, not handling religious issues,” Fauzi said.
A joint ministerial decree issued by the government in 2008 banned members of the Ahmadiyah Indonesia Congregation (JAI) from propagating their religious beliefs, but allowed them to maintain their faith and perform their daily religious duties.
The Governor said the administration decided to drop its plan to issue a bylaw against Ahmadiyah following a statement by Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs Minister Djoko Suyanto late on Sunday warning of the illegality of such bylaws.
“Local government can’t issue ordinances that go against these articles. The message is clear, there should be no bylaws or gubernatorial decrees that contradict the state’s Constitution,” Fauzi said.
Djoko said local ordinances on the issue should be consistent with Article 28 and 29 of the 1945 Constitution and the joint ministerial decree.
Article 29, section 2, stipulates state guarantees for the freedom of faith and worship.
Djoko also said the government could not ban a belief. “One way or another, we can’t stop or outlaw a religious belief,” he said.
An official from the Attorney General’s Office also said Ahmadiyah could not be disbanded.
The Junior Attorney General for Intelligence, Edwin Pamimpin Situmorang, meanwhile, said the Coordinating Board for the Monitoring of Mystical Beliefs in Society (Bakor Pakem), chaired by the Attorney General, was no longer authorized to outlaw a religious belief.
“Bakor Pakem only evaluates reports from the public regarding certain beliefs and submits its analysis to the Religious Affairs Ministry,” he told The Jakarta Post on Monday.
However, Ahmadis could be prosecuted under the 1965 Blasphemy Law if they cause unrest in the society,” Edwin said.
On Monday Home Minister Gamawan Fauzi said there should be no problems with the local governments issuing bans and they would not contradict the joint ministerial decree.
“The joint ministerial decree mandates that local governments to issue regulations consistent with the decree, but in principle these local governments could not disband Ahmadiyah,” Gamawan said.
There were 188 mystical beliefs and religious sects in Indonesia as of 2010, according to AGO records.
Calls from hard-line Muslim groups to ban Ahmadiyah have mounted in recent weeks following a deadly attack against Ahmadis in Cikeusik, Pandeglang, Banten.
Local administrations in East and West Java and South Sulawesi have issued bans against the sect members practicing their faith. The Pontianak city administration in West Kalimantan said on Monday that it would issue a similar ban later in the week.
The Tegal chapter of the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) in Central Java Khumaidi said as quoted by Antara that it supported the government and regional administrations banning Ahmadiyah followers from propagating their belief.