08/12/2005, 00.00
INDONESIA
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Indonesia: Government rejects integralists' request of to ban the Ahmadis

Decisions about the fate of the Muslim minority are left to the Indonesian Ulema Council, which will decide whether or not to lodge an appeal in court.

Jakarta (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Jakarta will not ban the teachings of the Ahmadiyah Indonesia Congregation (JAI) nor will it dissolve the group but it will leave it to the Indonesian Ulema Council or MUI is to decide about taking the matter to court. This was recently declared by the Indonesian Welfare Minister Alwi Shihab, who recalled that Jakarta respects the 1980 decree which allows the Ahmadis to proceed with their teachings within their own group and forbidding them to proselytize. "The government has decided that the judges should have the last word," said the minister, specifying that the decision was taken in a recent meeting of ministers about internal affairs issues.

 Last month, thousands of Islamic extremists attacked a complex in west Java where JAI members were meeting. The group of aggressors is called "Indonesian Group for Muslim solidarity". They say they act according to a fatwa issued in 1980 by MUI, which states the Ahmadis are interdicted because they do not recognize Mohammed as the last prophet. During a meeting in Jakarta, the MUI asked the government to ban the teaching of the Ahmadis and to ban the very group as well. Several Muslim leaders, including those of the

Muhammadiyah and the Nahdlatul Ulama – the country's largest Muslim organisations – condemned the attack; they said faith differences should not be resolved by violence.

In recent years, acts of intolerance against religious minorities have increased in Indonesia. The Ahmadi group was set up in the 19th century in Pakistan by Mirza Gulam Ahmad. His followers believe he is the prophet who took up Mohammed's legacy. In Indonesia, they have been in Indonesia since the eighties and they number some 200,000.

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