Bambang MuryantoThe Jakarta Post
Vandalism: Books are seen scattered through the ruins in a corner of Ahmadiyah congregation’s Al Kautsar Mosque following mass rioting on Sunday in Purworejo village, Kendal, Central Java. (Courtesy of Ahmadiyah congregation/File)
Leaders of Ahmadiyah Muslim communities from Indonesia and Malaysia are complaining about the absence of state protection for their followers in the two countries.
Speaking at the 2016 International Peace Symposium organized by the School of Social Sciences and Humanities of the State Islamic University (UIN) Sunan Kalijaga in Yogyakarta on Saturday, the leaders revealed how their followers were being oppressed in the two neighboring countries.
Jamaah Ahmadiyah Indonesia’s (JAI) ulema Mirajuddin Sahid asked the government to obey the Constitution and protect the rights of the Ahmadis in the country to worship according to their faith.
“Up to the present time the government has not been serious about protecting Ahmadis,” Mirajuddin told The Jakarta Post after speaking in the seminar, which ran smoothly despite recent bans and disruptions by groups intolerant of seminars discussing sensitive political and religious issues.
He said intolerant acts against the Ahmadis, who are considered heretics, were still being committed in 12 different locations across Indonesia, mostly in West Java.
He added the practices ranged from the closing of the mosques to subdistrict officers who refused to issue ID cards for Ahmadis.
The worst, he said, was what happened to 119 Ahmadi families in West Nusa Tenggara who years ago had been evicted from their homes and are still forced to take shelter in the Wisma Transito building in Mataram.
“They have been staying there for the last 10 years and the government still does nothing about it,” he said.
Another speaker at the symposium, the Malaysian Ahmadiyah Muslim community’s leader, Maulana Ainul Yaqeen, said oppression also prevailed against Ahmadis in Malaysia.
He said the Malaysian Ahmadis, also known as the Qadiani community, have been labelled infidels. “In 1953 there was an edict from the king saying that Ahmadiyah was outside of Islam,” said Maulana who was once sent to prison for preaching his faith.
Wahid Institute senior researcher Ahmad Suaedy said that historically oppression in Indonesia against minority groups like Ahmadiyah had not been as serious as what has been happening in the last 15 years.
He blamed the situation on how the leadership within Islam in the country changed from being tolerant to intolerant. He suggested the government implement a cultural citizenship approach by recognizing, respecting and protecting minority groups.
Meanwhile, Siti Ruhaini Dzuhayatin, a member of the human rights commission of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), said that intolerance had become a complicated problem in countries where people practiced Islam, like Indonesia.
She said that from a human rights perspective the right to adhere to a religion was an absolute right that no one, including the state, could take away.
“The state has no right to decide whether a religion is right or wrong. Its duty is to respect and protect it,” said Siti, who is also a lecturer at the UIN Sunan Kalijaga.
Unfortunately, she said, Law No. 1/1965 on religious blasphemy was still effective in Indonesia. Within such a framework, a difference of opinion over religion could be considered blasphemy and that was a crime.
“Differences in religions have to be settled in civilized ways and no intervention from the state is allowed,” she said.