Calls to disband Muslim sect mount in Indonesia
Hundreds of Indonesian Muslims rallied Friday in several cities to call for a minority Islamic sect to be outlawed after the country's top clerics branded it "heretical", reported dpa.
In the West Java district of Bogor, about 60 kilometres south of Jakarta, dozens of activists from Islamic organizations marched to the Ahmadiyah mosque and put up a poster saying, "Disband Ahmadiyah," Elshinta private radio reported.
In the South Sulawesi capital of Makassar, scores of Muslim youths rallied outside a mosque belonging to the minority sect, demanding the removal of the mosque's signboard, while in the North Sumatra capital of Medan, dozens of activists from the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) and the Hizbut Tahrir Muslim hardliner groups demanded an immediate ban on Ahmadiyah.
A call for the government to outlaw the sect also took place in Padang in West Sumatra, where dozens of Muslim activists marched to an Ahmadiyah mosque, and in Surabaya, the provincial capital of East Java.
It was the latest in a series of demands that Amhadiyah be banned after a government decree issued early this week ordering the minority sect to stop spreading their misleading teachings and return to mainstream Islam or face imprisonment and the disbanding of the group.
Both Islamic fundamentalists and Muslims preaching religious tolerance were outraged by Monday's decision to restrict but not outlaw the Ahmadiyah sect, which has about 200,000 followers in Indonesia.
Human rights groups and civil liberty activists denounced the decree, arguing the ruling was a violation of the country's constitution and encouraging Ahmadiyah to file a judicial review.
Ahmadiyah leaders said some of the group's followers were praying at home and "keeping a low profile" in response to the decree ordering them to stop spreading un-Islamic ideas or face five years in prison.
Mainstream Muslims reject Ahmadiyah's claim of the prophethood of its founder, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, who died in 1908 in India. Most Muslims believe that Mohammad was the last of the prophets.
Some of the sect's other teachings are also considered deviant by both Sunni and Shia Muslims, the two major branches of Islam, and some Muslim countries do not accept the Ahmadiyah followers as Muslim.
The Indonesian Ulema Council, the country's highest authority on Islam, has declared the Ahmadiyah sect heretical. Leaders of the council praised the government decree as a "moderate" response to the sect's "blasphemy."
Indonesia is home to the world's largest Muslim population with nearly 88 per cent of its 225 million people embracing the faith. The country has a long history of religious tolerance.