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Sect ban will ‘escalate violence’
Abdul Khalik, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta
A coalition of civil society groups is warning President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono against banning Ahmadiyah, saying the move would escalate attacks on the Islamic sect.
At a joint news conference here Tuesday, the Wahid Institute, the Jakarta Legal Aid Institute (LBH), the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras) and the Setara Institute demanded the President not issue a joint ministerial decree outlawing the sect.
“More Ahmadiyah members will become the target of attacks by radical groups. If right now the government can’t protect them from attacks, then violence will be much severe after the ban,” Wahid Institute executive director Ahmad Suaedy said.
He warned the President that a formal ban on Ahmadiyah would be a serious violation of the Constitution, which could lead to his impeachment.
“The ban would violate Article 28(1) of the Constitution, which guarantees freedom of religious beliefs,” Suaedy said.
Setara Institute chairman Hendardi, who is also a human rights lawyer, threatened to bring the issue to the United Nations if the government went ahead with the ban.
“The government should stop meddling in citizens’ private matters. Why don’t Yu-dhoyono and his ministers take care of many other crucial issues, such as food price increases and poverty.
“Banning Ahmadiyah will make our country a pariah state and equate us with violence,” he said.
On Monday, a group calling itself the Jamaah Al Mubalighin Communication Forum set fire to a mosque belonging to Ahmadiyah in Parakan Salak village in Sukabumi, West Java.
Several days earlier, a radical group attacked Ahmadiyah mosques in Singaparna, Garut, and in Bogor, West Java.
The latest attacks came after the Coordinating Board for Monitoring Mystical Beliefs in Society (Bakor Pakem) declared Ahmadiyah “heretical” early this month and recommended the government outlaw it.
The government’s board ruled the sect failed to honor its 12-point declaration regarding faith and social values consistent to Islamic values after being given three months to prove its commitment.
The interdepartmental board said it found Ahmadiyah had continued to follow activities that deviated from mainstream Islamic teachings.
Chief security minister Widodo Adi Sucipto said last week the government would issue a joint decree based on the board’s recommendation.