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Over 400 Ahmadis ‘On Right Path,’ West Java Governor Says
Yuli Krisna | April 15, 2011
More than 400 members of the beleaguered Ahmadiyah have converted to mainstream Islam since a ban on their activities was issued in West Java, officials claimed on Thursday.
West Java Governor Ahmad Heryawan said encouraging conversions was the main objective of the ban, which he ordered on March 3.
The ban followed a series of attacks against the minority sect by mainstream Muslims and hard-liners.
“This is a truly historic moment,” Ahmad said.
“More than 400 Ahmadis have rushed to embrace true Islam. Our aim is to put these people on the right path.”
He added that in order to renounce their faith, there was a 12-point program that the Ahmadis had to follow, including acknowledging Muhammad as the last prophet in Islam.
The animosity toward the Ahmadis stems from the sect’s belief that its founder, Mirza Gulam Ahmad, was a prophet, albeit subordinate to Muhammad.
This difference in opinion has resulted in Ahmadiyah followers being subjected to attacks and other forms of persecution.
However, the governor defended the decree banning the sect’s activities as a means of ensuring an end to the violent attacks. “There’s more security with the decree in place,” he said.
Rafiq Ahmad Sumadi Gandakusuma, a spokesman for the Ahmadiyah congregation in the province, however, disputed that claim. He pointed out that on April 3, a mob attacked five homes belonging to sect members in Bogor.
“Besides, the decree is unconstitutional,” he told the Jakarta Globe.
He also said the mass conversion of Ahmadis to mainstream Islam was not significant given that most of them “weren’t really believers, so it was always going to be easy to sway them.”