Written by KBR68H
Recently an Ahmadi couple were denied permission to get married by the Religious Affairs Office in Indonesia’s West Java province, unless they agreed to convert to mainstream Islam.
And last week, a blood donor event held by a group of Ahmadiyah in the same province was stopped by the authorities.
Indonesia’s 200,000 Ahmadiyah people identify themselves as Muslim but hardline Islamic organisations have attacked them for not following mainstream Islamic practices.
And in 2008, the Government announced a joint ministerial decree freezing the activities of Ahmadiyah followers.
Many blame the decree for series of attacks against the Ahmadiyah. The United Nations’ Human Rights Chief has continuously urged the Indonesian government to tackle the problem.
Citra Prastuti has more from Jakarta.
Atep Upriyatna’s brother was recently refused permission to get married in the Religious Affairs Office in Tasikmalaya. The officials would only allow the marriage to go ahead if he converted to mainstream Islam.
“We can’t negotiate our faith. Our faith is our human right. We came to the Office, we wanted to get married at the Religious Affairs Office because we’re Muslim. Ahmadi people are Muslims. That’s why we don’t go to the Civil Registry Office like other religions do.”
Hundreds of people from various hard line Islamic organisations protested outside the Office when they heard the rumour that an Ahmadiyah couple were planning to get married there. Local officials denied the rumour, saying that it’s not allowed under Islamic Law to register a
Ahmadi marriage as they’re not considered ‘real’ Muslims.
Abdul Jamil from the Ministry of Religious Affairs defends the decision. “They’re doing the right thing. They have to cancel the marriage for a number of reasons, such as pressure from local organisations and safety concerns. Hundreds of people staged a protest in front of the Office, right? I think it’s the right decision in this kind of situation. The Ahmadiyah couple can still perform a marriage ceremony according to Islamic law.”
This year at least six Ahmadiyah couples were denied permission to register their marriages at the Religious Affairs Office because of their religious beliefs. It’s also hard to ask for official permission to get married in other parts of the country says Ahmadi Khairul Tsani.
“I was trying to get an official letter to marry in another area. But the head of the neighbourhood association asked me to state in the letter that I’m not an Ahmadiyah.” In 2008, the Indonesian government issued a Joint Ministerial Decree that severely limits the rights of 200,000 Ahmadiyah followers across the country. And this was followed by a decree published last year by the West Jave province authorities.
The province is home to Indonesia’s largest community of Ahmadiyah. Many say the decree is being used by hard line Muslim groups to attack the Ahmadiyah. Last month, an Ahmadiyah mosque in Bandung was attacked by hard line Muslim groups.
And last week, the authorities stopped a blood donor event held by a local Ahmadiyah group and the Indonesian Red Cross. Mujib Zubaidi is one of the Ahmadiyah blood donors in West Java. “We said to them that it’s an event organised for the welfare of the community. We work together with the Indonesian Red Cross for this event. We explained to the authorities that it’s purely a community activity, and it’s not related to Islamic teachings in any way. But they said that after the recent attack on our mosque, they wanted us to stop the event.”
According to a survey by human rights watchdog Setara Institute last year, the Ahmadiyah suffer the highest level of intolerance and discrimination in the country. The same survey shows that West Java is the least tolerant province, registering the largest
number of cases of religious violence. Ismail Hasani is from Setara Institute.
“The provincial decree is used as justification by radical groups to attack Ahmadiyah people. And the police don’t do anything to punish the attackers, saying that their actions were ‘spontanious’. The decree is legitimising attacks against the Ahmadis.”
In a recent visit to Indonesia, the United Nations Human Rights Chief Navanethem Pillay condemned the violence and discrimination against Muslim minorities. Pillay urged the Indonesian government to amend or repeal the 2008 Decree on Ahmadiyah to secure their fundamental human rights. “Indonesia has a rich culture and history of diversity and tolerance. At the same time, it risks losing this if firm action is not taken to address increasing levels of violence and hatred towards religious minorities and narrow and extremist interpretations of Islam.”
The UN Human Rights Commission also urged the Indonesian government to allow the presence of the special rapporteur on freedom of religion to monitor the situation.