Wed, 09/01/2010 9:37 AM
Arghea Desafti Hapsari, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta
Human rights activists have described Religious Affairs Minister Suryadharma Ali’s proposal to disband the Ahmadiyah congregation as a “setback” and a national “humiliation”.
Rafendi Djamin, Indonesia’s representative to ASEAN’s Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights, told The Jakarta Post on Tuesday that Suryadharma’s statement was a setback and was counter to the country’s commitment to religious freedom.
The minister will inflame hard-line groups to commit even more violence with such a statement, he added.
Suryadharma said on Monday that Ahmadiyah “must be disbanded immediately” because it violated a 2008 joint ministerial decree that stated that Ahmadiyah can not propagate its teachings.
The process of dissolving the group will be gradual, Suryadharma said Tuesday, as quoted by kompas.com.
“We will not abruptly disband it. The process will begin with the enforcement of the joint ministerial decree,” he said.
Neither Suryadharma nor the ministry provided evidence supporting the minister’s allegations.
Rafendi said the planned ban of Ahmadiyah was inimical to the country’s efforts to uphold the principles of human rights and democracy.
President Susilo Bambang Yu-dhoyono previously told an audience at Harvard University in the US that Indonesia “has shown that Islam, modernity and democracy — plus economic growth and national unity — can be a powerful partnership.”
Yudhoyono also said that the country wanted to ensure that tolerance and respect for religious freedom became part of its “trans-generational DNA” and that Indonesia was a powerful example of how Islam, democracy and modernity can go “hand in hand”.
Jamaah Ahmadiyah, which has 200,000 followers in Indonesia, has also been the target of attacks from hard-line Islamic groups, most recently in Manis Lor, Kuningan regency when three were injured.
Hard-line Muslim organizations have demanded that the group be banned.
Home Affairs Ministry spokesman Saut Situmorang told the Post that a mass organization could be banned if it was proven to have disturbed the public order or posed a threat to national unity.
Saut said if the Religious Affairs Ministry decided to ban Ahmadiyah group, the Home Affairs Ministry would have to apply the 1985 Law on Mass Organizations, which provides a mechanism to disband groups.
Nurkholis Hidayat, the chairman of the Jakarta Legal Aid Foundation, asked if the Ahmadiyah needed to be banned under the law. “I think the FPI [Islam Defenders Front] meets more of the requirements,” he said.
Rafendi said banning Ahmadiyah would justify more violence. “What [Suryadharma] said concerns an inalienable right [of the Ahmadiyah members] to hold religious beliefs that cannot be denied in any kind of situation,” he added.