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West Java city outlaws Ahmadiyah sect
Yuli Tri Suwarni, The Jakarta Post, Bandung
Cimahi municipality in West Java has followed Sukabumi and Kuningan regencies in banning the Islamic sect Ahmadiyah, despite no formal ban from the central government.
Mayor Itoc Tochiya issued the order on May 6, a day after the local chapter of the Coordinating Board for the Supervision of Mystical Beliefs in Society (Bakor Pakem) recommended municipal authorities ban the sect for heresy.
Head of the Cimahi chapter of the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI), Hafidz Sayuti, said the council urged the municipality to issue the ban “to protect sect members”.
Sukabumi and Kuningan regencies, also in West Java, earlier issued orders banning the sect. These local actions come as the central government considers a nationwide ban on Ahmadiyah.
A mosque belonging to the sect in Parakan Salak, Sukabumi, was burned down on April 28 by Muslims demanding the government outlaw the group.
More than 50 families who are followers of the sect have been evicted from their villages in Ketapang, West Nusa Tenggara, and are now staying in temporary shelters at government buildings in Mataram.
Sayuti said the Cimahi chapter of the Indonesian Ulema Council had investigated the sect and found they continued to treat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad as a prophet and that their teachings deviated from mainstream Islamic tenets.
“Wouldn’t it minimize social tension if they stopped their activities?” Sayuti said Wednesday.
Cimahi is home to thousands of Ahmadis, one of the biggest concentrations of members in West Java, along with Sukabumi, Kuningan, Bogor and Bandung.
The ban was greeted by protests not only by Ahmadiyah members but also by an interfaith group, AKUR, which accused municipal authorities of ignoring human rights and violating the Constitution’s guarantee of religious freedom.
AKUR coordinator Yaman Didu said the ban was contrary to the Constitution, which protects the rights of citizens and enshrines freedom of religion.
“We demand the mayor revoke the decision and retract statements published in the media,” Didu said.
Head of the Bandung region Ahmadiyah youth wing, Zaki Firdaus, said the mayor had acted arbitrarily.
“We believe we have been carrying out our responsibilities as good citizens, so please treat us correctly,” Zaki said.
He urged the central government to settle this issue fairly and wisely, in line with the Constitution and human rights.