Indonesian fundamentalists march against Ahmadiyya Islam

Chanting “Allahu Akbar” and “Disband Ahmadiyya,” some 1,000 members of the Indonesian Muslim Forum (FUI) marched on the Merdeka Palace in Jakarta April 21 to demand President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono issue a decree to ban the “deviant” Islamic sect. “We are pushing the president to immediately issue a presidential decree disbanding Ahmadiyya,” FUI secretary general Muhammad Al Khaththath told Reuters. The FUI also demanded the government arrest Ahmadiyya leaders and seize all the organization’s assets.

Alarmingly, the government seems to be considering these demands. Reuters reports that a team with officials from two government ministries and the attorney general’s office has recommended the government ban the sect because its teachings deviate from the central tenets of Islam. The Ahmadiyah sect, which has several thousand members in Indonesia, was officially declared “deviant” in January by the Indonesian Council of Ulemas (MUI), the country’s highest Islamic authority.

In the past, Islamic radicals have vandalized Ahmadiyya mosques and schools in Indonesia. AFP notes that protesters at the Jakarta march chanted “Disband Ahmadiyyah, oust America,” without explaining the links between the two. (AFP, Reuters, April 20)

We’ve noted that the Ahmadiyyah face persecution in Bangladesh and Pakistan as well as Indonesia—and that, despite (because of?) their idiosyncratic beliefs, they are principled dissidents from the growing Wahhabi-Salafist sway over the global ulema. To understand the absurd conflation of Ahmadiyyah and America, we refer readers once again to our formula for deconstructing the struggle within Islam:

There is really a three-way civil war underway throughout the Islamic world. The three inter-related conflicts are: 1.) Sunni v. Shia, 2.) fundamentalism v. secularism, and 3.) national liberation v. imperialism. The sad irony is that it is the social iniquities that underly this last contradiction that provide the raw material of endemic rage—which is increasingly exploited, siphoned off as it were, into the prior two. Fundamentalists conflate secularism and imperialism (given a propaganda boost by their neocon enemies, who do likewise), and pose the only alternative as a purified, hegemonic Islam which must, of course, crush internal heresy.

Except that Sunni and Shi’ite alike view the Ahmadiyyah as heretical…

See our last posts on Indonesia and the struggle within Islam.

  1. Jemaah Islamiyah militants sentenced
    The Indonesian state, it seems, is trying to appease the jihadists by selling out folks such as the Ahmadiyya—even while cracking down on those who won’t take the bait. From the New York Times, April 22:

    Indonesia: Suspected Terrorists Given 15-Year Prison Sentences
    Zarkasih, who uses one name and is believed to have been the leader of the regional terrorist group Jemaah Islamiyah from 2005 until his arrest last year, was sentenced to 15 years in prison. Abu Dujana, a deputy who led the group’s military arm and was also arrested last year, was also sentenced to 15 years. Their arrests were a major blow for the group, whose attacks in Indonesia included the 2002 Bali nightclub bombing, which killed more than 200 people. The police have said that both men had been active members since the group’s beginning.