Difference in doctrine
not enough reason to disband

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 Saturday.

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 organization.

“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 politically orchestration.

“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.

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