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    » 04/23/2008, 00.00

    INDONESIA

    Ulema against the government in defence of “heretical’ Ahmadis



    Nahdlatul Ulama leaders oppose a draft bill that would outlaw the Ahmadi sect, which does not recognise Muhammad as the last prophet. They also plan to field 20,000 young people to defend Ahmadis from attacks by extremists.

    Jakarta (AsiaNews) – The leaders of Nahdlatul Ulama, Indonesia’s largest Islamic organisation, have expressed their opposition to a government proposal that would ban the Ahmadi sect and said they would protect the group from any abuse. The sect, which recognises Mirza Ghulam Ahmad as the last prophet in Islam instead of Muhammad, is considered heretical in many Muslim countries, including Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.

    The ulemas, who have gathered at the home of a famous imam, Habib Syarief Utsman Yahya, are providing for the physical protection of the Ahmadi “until the current state of affairs continues,” i.e. as long as there are violent demonstrations by Islamic extremists in Jakarta and Java Province demanding immediate government action against those “who desecrate Muhammad.”

    For its part the government has drafted a bill that would outlaw the sect. The proposal, submitted by the Council for the Control of Mystical Religions, is being examined by legal experts within the Interior Affairs Ministry. In the meantime fears about anti-Ahmadi violence are growing.

    After the latest ulema meeting, Syarief said: “It is the normal duty of police to protect and defend Indonesian citizens, but given this particular case we are ready to back them with our groups of young people. We can field at least 20,000 young people.”

    Nahdlatul Ulama plans setting up self-defence groups around residential areas where Ahmadis live, mainly in Jalaksana and Majalengka, Java Province.

    “We must fight this mindset. The government project cannot be accepted because it openly violates freedom of religion which is guaranteed by the constitution,” the Imam Syarief said. “Ahmadis have the same rights before the law as everybody else. If they take action against the government we would support them.”

    Indonesia is the biggest Muslim country in the world. Out of a population of 219 million, 87.2 per cent are Muslim; 9 per cent are Christians. Ahmadis are about 0.2 per cent of the total.

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    See also

    02/08/2005 INDONESIA
    Gus Dur against fundamentalist threat in Indonesia
    Former Indonesian President opposes the extremism of the Indonesian Ulemas Council, condemning the persecution of the Ahmadi Muslims. Christians demand respect for religious pluralism, one of the nation's "cultural assets".

    04/06/2008 INDONESIA
    More than 50 Islamic Defender Front extremists arrested
    The police is questioning detainees over last 1 June clashes during a pro-religious freedom rally. FPI leader is among those arrested. In East Java young moderate Muslims burn radical group’s flags.

    05/03/2011 INDONESIA
    Moderate Muslims and human rights activists defend Ahmadis
    Some Indonesian provinces ban “heretical” sect. East and West Java are followed by East Borneo, West Jakarta and South Sulawesi. The Nahdlatul Ulama defends Ahmadis, saying that doctrinal deviations are no justification for violence.

    26/10/2005 INDONESIA
    Five deaths in clashes between Muslim sect and police in Sulawesi
    Police was trying to take in Mahdi sect leaders for interrogation. Sect is accused of apostasy and violence. Islamic leaders call the sect "illegal" but also condemn the police raid.

    19/03/2011 INDONESIA
    Ahmadi leaders call for pluralistic and tolerant Indonesia
    A solid and long term vision required for leadership of the country. The Ministry of Defence denies proselytizing in the military, aimed at converting "heretics." Only three provinces declare sect legal. Indonesian activist: the government must safeguard the rights of religious minorities.



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