Sunday, May 18, 2008

Is freedom of religion conditional in RI?

In the first few days after an Ahmadiyah mosque in Parakan Salak, Sukabumi, West Java, was burned down by a mob of hardliners at the end of last month, Siti Masitoh had to stop her 6-year-old son from running out from their modest house to the mosque for dusk prayers.

Locking the door, the wife of the leader of Parakan Salak's Jemaah Ahmadiyah, Asep Saifudin, told her son in tears that the Al-Furqon mosque was no longer there.

"It's like he forgets the mosque has been burned down," Masitoh said last Sunday.

When he does remember, he cries and asks his parents to rebuild the mosque, which is now in ruins. Its roof and dome collapsed in the fire.

On the evening of April 28, a group calling itself the Jamaah Al Mubalighin Communication Forum set fire to the mosque, which belongs to the Ahmadiyah sect.

Ahmadis believe Punjabi Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, who founded the Ahmadiyah group in 1889, is a prophet and also the messiah.

Terror and intimidation by hardliners were not directed at Ahmadiyah alone. Violent attacks were also faced by other sects that were deemed "deviant" by the Indonesian Ulema Council. Mobs harassed and attacked members of the Kingdom of Eden sect in Jakarta founded by Lia Aminudin, who claimed to receive revelations from the Angel Gabriel.

In Bogor, mobs also intimidated members of Al-Qiyadah Al-Islamiyah, founded by Ahmad Mossadeq, who claimed to be a prophet and the messiah.

Under the 1945 Constitution, the state "guarantees all persons freedom of worship, each according to his own religion or belief".

Legal Aid Institute director Patra M Zen, a member of a National Alliance for Freedom of Religion and Belief, said the state should not intervene in the religious life of its citizens.

"We're seeing a step back in religious tolerance and pluralism in SBY's time," he said referring to Yudhoyono's popular nickname.

"What we need to hear from the President is a firm statement that the state will create religious tolerance, uphold the rule of law, and facilitate religious dialogue between groups," he said.

Full article by Prodita Sabarini

Related: Move to ban 'deviant' sect puts Indonesian tolerance in question

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