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Indonesian Ahmadis defy prayer ban call

Muslim council demands sect adheres to mainstream teachings

Katharina R Lestari, Jakarta

April 25, 2014

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Followers of a minority Muslim sect in Indonesia are continuing daily prayers in their West Java mosque despite a call for a ban from the district's Indonesian Ulema Council.

Syaiful Uyun, an Ahmadiya cleric at the mosque, told that daily prayers were an obligation of all Muslims.

"Daily prayers continue as usual. We do hope it will be like this," he said on Friday.

According to Uyun, local Ahmadis have remained calm in response to the call for a ban on religious activities.

"The district's [Ulema Council] is not a state body. So we do not pay too much attention to its call," he said.

He hoped that a peaceful dialogue can deal with the council's objections to sect.

"If people have an objection against Ahmadiyah, let the law deal with it. Don't take the law into their hands. We, the Ahmadis, are also Indonesian citizens,” he said.

Uyun said the community has not received any threats since the call for the ban was issued, but police in early April asked mosque officials to stop all activities.

According to Uyun, the district Ulema council's action came after a rumor circulated in early April that hardliners would forcibly close the mosque, which serves about 200 Ahmadis.

Cholil Nafis, deputy head of the study desk at the Indonesian Ulema Council, told that the council’s goal was to bring the Ahmadi community in line with mainstream Muslim thinking.

"The [council's] stance is clear. The Ahmadiyah must discontinue the promulgation of interpretations and activities that [are] deviant from the principal teachings of Islam," Nafis said.

The majority of Indonesians are adherents of the Sunni Muslim tradition. There have been repeated calls to ban and sporadic violence against the minority Ahmadis for beliefs that mainstream Muslims consider blasphemous, such as believing additional prophets came after Mohammed.

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