Ahmadiyah officially banned [by Bekasi municipality]

Jakarta Post, Indonesia
HEADLINESFri, 10/14/2011 6:54 AM
Hans David Tampubolon, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

The Bekasi municipality has officially banned the religious practice of the Ahmadiyah sect on Thursday, a move pluralists deemed as the legitimation of a violation of the spirit of the Constitution.

The head of the Bekasi Agency for State Unity, Politics and Community Protection, Agus Dharma, said that the issuance of the decree banning Ahmadiyah’s religious practices was passed in order to meet the demands of local people.

“Ahmadiyah activity has caused unrest among Bekasi residents. [The decree was] issued to prevent conflicts resulting from different beliefs among local residents,” Agus said.

The decree was signed by acting Bekasi mayor Rahmat Effendi, and involved all city institutions contained under the Regional Consultative Council (Muspida).

The decree accentuated a 2008 joint ministerial decree, and an Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) edict from 2005, demanding Ahmadiyah be disbanded because it was heretic and blasphemous.

There are around 200 Ahmadiyah followers in Bekasi, according to the city administration.

Commenting on this latest development in Bekasi, the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras) coordinator Usman Hamid said it was time for all civilians to rise up and conduct forms of civil disobedience in protest against a government that has legitimazed a discriminative regulation that basically violated the spirit of the Constitution, which guarantees people’s religious freedoms and rights.

“Civil disobedience is not intended as a violation of the law but as a [peaceful] protest. The law, right now, no longer represents the rights of minorities,” Usman told The Jakarta Post on Thursday.

Usman also said that the Bekasi administration’s move was a sign that the values of democracy in the country have faded away.

“The main pillars of democracy are equal citizenship and human rights. Without them, there can be no democracy. Democracy does not stop with the ballot box.”

Separately, Ahmadiyah spokesman Mubarik said that the nation’s legal system had done little to support minorities.

“The most horrific example is the fact that the murderers of three Ahmadiyah followers have not been brought to trial until now,” Mubarik said, in referring to an incident that occurred earlier this year when three Ahmadiyah followers were brutally murdered by a mob of fundamentalists in Cikeusik, Banten.

Mubarik, however, stressed that for the time being, Ahmadiyah followers would comply with the Bekasi decree, banning their activities.

“Our compliance does not mean that we are not going to fight back.

We will fight for our rights through our legal representatives, who have submitted a judicial review to the Supreme Court on every discriminative decree and regulation issued in the country,” he said.

“It will be a long fight. But people need to realize that Ahmadiyah followers are basically free citizens. Their right to freedom [of religion] must not be curtailed. Any decree or regulation that curtails citizens’ rights is a violation of the Constitution and, therefore, for the sake of the law, such decrees and regulations must be annulled,” he added.

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