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Govt delays decision on Ahmadiyah
Abdul Khalik, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta
The government on Monday delayed issuing a decree to outlaw the Islamic sect Jamaah Ahmadiyah, saying it needed more time to draft the details of the legal document.
Last week, Attorney General Hendarman Supandji announced the joint ministerial decree would be made public Monday at the Home Ministry.
However, Home Minister Mardiyanto said Monday the government was still finalizing the decree to be signed by him, Hendarman and Religious Affairs Minister Maftuh Basyuni.
The government was “very cautious” in drafting the decree to avoid incorrect interpretations from the public, Mardiyanto said.
“This a legal product that will be part of our positive law. We must be very cautious and precise to avoid violating the existing laws,” he told a news conference.
The Coordinating Board for Monitoring Mystical Beliefs in Society (Bakor Pakem) officially declared Ahmadiyah “heretical” last month and recommended the government ban it.
The interdepartmental board said it found Ahmadiyah had continued its religious activities that deviated from mainstream Islamic teachings.
Numerous hard-line and radical Muslim groups lauded the recommendation and demanded an immediate ban on Ahmadiyah.
However, moderate Muslim scholars and activists as well as human right campaigners condemned the anti-Ahmadiyah recommendation.
They warned President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono a ban on Ahmadiyah would be a serious violation of the Constitution, which could lead to his impeachment.
The ban, critics argued, would violate the article of the Constitution that guarantees freedom of religious beliefs.
House of Representatives speaker Agung Laksono similarly warned Monday such a ban could spark renewed violence against Ahmadiyah members.
Mardiyanto said the problem police faced in ensuring the protection of Ahmadiyah members from attacks was partly behind the delay.
Ahmadiyah spokesman Mubarik threatened to take legal action against the government should it go ahead with the issuance.
“The decision will be a legal product so we will file a complaint with a district court or ask the Constitutional Court to review it.
“Until we get a final verdict, we have the right to continue our activities,” he said.
Mubarik said the biggest concern for Ahmadiyah was that the decree would be used as justification by radical groups to renew attacks on the sect’s members across the country.
“For our members living in major cities, we are safe enough, but what about others living in villages who don’t have adequate protection from police?
“That’s why we have officially asked the National Police to protect all of our members,” he said.
Mubarik said new attacks on Ahmadiyah began right after the Bakor Pakem recommendation, including last week’s incident at Parakan Salak village in Sukabumi, West Java, where a group calling itself the Jamaah Al-Mubalighin Communication Forum burned down a mosque belonging to the sect.