Indonesia: Religious Affairs minister wants Ahmadis banned

world | Sep 02, 2010 | By Asia News

Jakarta – The fight over the legal status of the Ahmadiyah community continues in Indonesia. Deemed “heretical” by mainstream Muslims, it has come under attack from the government. Yesterday Religious Affairs Minister Suryadharma Ali signed a decree, calling for the banning of the sect, a small minority present in most Muslim nations.  In his view, “Ahmadis must be banned because they break our laws, do not recognise Muhammad as the last prophet, and do not believe the Holy Qur‘an to be the last Holy Book of Islam.”

Ahmadis are Muslims who venerate Muhammad as well as Mirza Ghulam Ahmad as prophets. For this reason, they are seen as heretics and attacked by Muslim extremists.

Last year, extremists attacked them 33 times. In the first six months of this year, only four attacks were recorded. However, anti-Ahmadi violence has escalated in Pakistan.

Home Minister and the Attorney General also signed the ministerial decree, which was presented to a joint session of parliament, causing uproar among NGOs and various civil society groups.

In his address before lawmakers, the Religious Affairs minister argued that Ahmadis are against the “mainstream of Islam.” If this “is considered as religious freedom, then I call it an excessive freedom,” he said.

For Fr Andang Listya Binawan, a Jesuit, the decree is neither useful nor pressing. “The government often confuses two rights, the right to worship and the right to form an organisation. If local Ahmadis do not bother anyone as a sect or organisation, there is no need to ban them.”

Ali’s statement also sparked a sharp reaction from Nurcholis Hidayat, president of the Indonesian Legal Aid society, who said that he, the minister, “should protect religions,” instead of “triggering new interfaith clashes.”

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