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Demands to ban Ahmadiyah flare across archipelago
Slamet Susanto and Jon Afrizal, The Jakarta Post, Yogyakarta/Jambi
Demands to ban Ahmadiyah have increased in a number of regions amid recent calls from some US congressmen asking the Indonesian government to revoke laws that discriminate against the Islamic sect.
In Yogyakarta, some 300 people from different Muslim organizations grouped under the Islamic Peoples’ Front (FUI) staged a rally on Sunday demanding the provincial administration ban Ahmadiyah in the province.
Taking law into own hands: Members of the Islamic People’s Front (FUI) speak in front of police after sealing the office of minority Islamic sect Ahmadiyah in Yogyakarta on Sunday. Yogyakarta provincial administration has refused to ban the sect’s activities. JP/Slamet Susanto
Riding on motorcycles, the protesters traversed the main streets of Yogyakarta — a city that has long been respected for tolerance. The demonstrators reportedly shouted anti-Ahmadiyah sentiments in a rally that was said to be orderly and peaceful.
“Please remember Islam teaches peace. So don’t become easily provoked by the enemies of Islam by contributing to anarchy. March in two rows so you won’t disrupt the traffic,” protest coordinator Abu Almer told participants.
The protesters expressed support for the Indonesian Ulema Council’s (MUI) edict declaring that Ahmadiyah must be disbanded because of heresy and blasphemy against Islam. “Ahmadiyah must be disbanded unless they no longer use the name and symbols of Islam,” Abu Almer said.
The group also urged the provincial administration to implement the joint ministerial decree on banning Ahmadiyah activities and to issue a bylaw banning the sect.
The group symbolically closed the Ahmadiyah office in Kotabaru by attaching a piece of cloth with the word “sealed”. “This is a symbol of our demand,” Abu Almer said.
Yogyakarta Governor Sri Sultan Hamengkubuwono X has repeatedly said he would not issue a special bylaw to ban Ahmadiyah, arguing that the province was peaceful and tolerant and that the authority to ban the sect lays with the central government.
In Padang, West Sumatra, Governor Irwan Prayitno said that he was ready to issue a gubernatorial regulation banning Ahmadiyah activities in the province within two days.
Irwan also said his administration would try to send a letter to the President urging a ban of Ahmadiyah since regional administrations could only ban the sect’s activities.
“In other countries such as Pakistan and Malaysia, Ahmadiyah has become a cult and not a part of Islam,” Irwan told a Cult Surveillance Coordinating Agency (Bakorpakem) forum on Friday evening.
In Palu, Central Sulawesi, the provincial branch of MUI also expressed support for the ban of Ahmadiyah activities. “Ahmadiyah is heretical because it has turned away from Islamic teachings,” MUI branch chairman Saggaf Aldjufri said, as quoted by Antara news agency on Saturday.
Central Sulawesi Governor H.B. Paliudju has previously called on local Ahmadis to return to Islamic instruction and not influence other Muslims with their teaching.
“I call on Ahmadis to temporarily stop their activities until further decision is made by the central government regarding the existence of Ahmadiyah in the country,” the governor said.
In Jambi, the provincial MUI branch said that it has been monitoring the activities of Ahmadis in the province to see if what they practiced was heresy.
Ahmadis are differentiated between those who believe Mirza Ghulam Ahmad is a prophet — thus considered heresy because Islam recognizes Muhammad as the final prophet — and those who consider Mirza a preacher.
The Jambi branch chairman Handri Hasan said a survey team had been sent to regions where Ahmadis resided. “If they only considered Mirza Ghulam Ahmad an Islamic preacher then it will not be a problem,” he said.