The government said it needed a
stronger justification to disband Ahmadiyah than the fact that its doctrine was
viewed by hardliners to “deviate” from orthodox Islam, a religious leader said
Amien Rais, the former chairman of Muhammadiyah,
the second-largest Muslim organization in the country, said the government could
limit the movement of Ahmadiyah followers instead of disbanding the
“Ahmadiyah is indeed misleading, but
[the followers] also have the right to live, and they must be disbanded if they
try to sabotage the nation, not because of their belief that [Muhammad] was not
the last prophet,” he was quoted as saying by Antara news agency in Semarang.
Amien added that disbanding
Ahmadiyah may lead to similar repression of other minorities.
Followers of Ahmadiyah believe Mirza
Ghulam Ahmad, the founder of the religious movement in India, was Islam’s last prophet,
or at least a reformer or a redeemer of Islam.
Although the religious movement has
existed in Indonesia since the 1920s, it has often been on the receiving end of
hostility and violence, especially from hard-line Muslims.
It enjoyed more acceptance during
the rule of late president Abdurrahman “Gus Dur” Wahid, who was known for his
tolerant disposition toward all faiths.
Gus Dur, along with Amien Rais who
was then the speaker of the People’s Consultative Assembly, welcomed the visit
of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad’s grandson, Mirza Tahir Ahmad, to Jakarta in 2000.
However, violence against Ahmadis
has increased sharply lately, with hardliners killing three Ahmadis in the latest
attack in Cikeusik, Banten.
Amien claimed the attack was
“The police investigation must be open
to all members of society to ensure the process is fair,” he said.
Politicians and officials suggested
that Ahmadiyah be declared a new religion, but followers of the faith objected
to the idea, saying they would continue to identify as Muslims.