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Government told to disband board over Ahmadiyah ban
The Jakarta Post, Jakarta, Bandung, Mataram
The government is being urged to disband its interdepartmental board that recently recommended a ban on Jamaah Ahmadiyah, as protests have continued in support of the Islamic sect.
“We demand the government dissolve the Coordinating Board for Monitoring Mystical Beliefs in Society (Bakor Pakem) immediately because the board is no longer relevant for today,” Indonesian Legal Aid Foundation (YLBHI) research director Zainal Abidin told The Jakarta Post on Monday.
“The board is one of the New Order regime’s products and it tends to limit citizens’ freedom. In today’s context, the government should not interfere in citizens’ political and social issues.
“People have their rights and freedom to carry out religious activities,” he said.
Zainal said the YLBHI may take legal action against Bakor Pakem for limiting the freedom of expression of Ahmadiyah members.
“We still see the possibility of filing a lawsuit against the board,” Zainal said.
On April 16, Bakor Pakem, which consists of senior officials from the Attorney General’s Office, the Religious Affairs Ministry, the Home Ministry and the National Police, announced a ban on Ahmadiyah for heresy.
Bakor Pakem said that during a three-month evaluation of 55 Ahmadiyah communities across the country, it found the sect failed to commit to the 12 points of its public declaration signed in January.
The declaration included acknowledging the Prophet Muhammad, instead of Mirza Gulam Ahmad, as the last prophet in Islam, as believed by mainstream Muslims worldwide.
Hard-line groups renewed attacks on Ahmadiyah following the board’s recommendation.
The YLBHI also urged the government to take concrete measures to ensure acts of violence would not recur.
“The state is responsible for protecting all citizens, including Ahmadiyah members, from any threats and fears,” Zainal said.
Some organizations showed their support Monday for Ahmadiyah.
In Bandung, West Java, about 25 organizations staged a rally demanding the government refrain from interfering with citizens’ freedom. They also called on Bakor Pakem to withdraw its recommendation.
Protest participant Zaki Firdaus said the ban would put Ahmadiyah members under increasing pressure, especially in the case of children attending state schools.
“The teachers always say Ahmadiyah is forbidden in the country and its members are infidels. These statements have led to high pressure for children,” Zaki said.
In Mataram, dozens of organizations under the National Alliance for Tolerance (AKUR) also held a similar protest.
The alliance did not only reject the anti-Ahmadiyah recommendation, but also urged moderate Muslim organizations like Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), Muhammadiyah and Nahdlatul Wathan (NW) to overcome differences among them and help cancel the ban.
The AKUR asked police to protect Ahmadiyah refugees living in limbo at the Transito Mataram House.
“Many Ahmadiyah members have stayed in Transito without having any proper facilities, including security, health and education for their children. The ban will worsen their conditions,” said protest coordinator Taufiqurrahman.
The West Nusa Tenggara government should give Ahmadiyah members necessary protection and send them back to their hometowns, he added. (trw)
Yuli Tri Suwarni and Panca Nugraha contributed to this story from Bandung and Mataram, respectively.