The on-going campaign in Indonesia, to ban and persecute the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community underscores the challenges facing the nation in protecting human rights, forging a secular identity and strengthening the spirit of democracy and rule of law. It is worth recalling that freedom of belief is a fundamental human right, guaranteed by the Indonesian Constitution, and no citizen can be denied this right on the grounds of his or her beliefs. Any thinking citizen would agree that as a religious order, the Ahmadiyya has every right to preach and propagate all of its doctrines and beliefs. It is immaterial for a secular state whether the beliefs or ritual practices may or may not conform to the beliefs and practices of the other denominations in Islam.
The religio-political campaign obviously seeks to discredit the teachings of the Ahmadiyya community and to call attention to the "danger" faced from this intrinsically peaceful sect of Islam. Instead of displaying sectarian intolerance and moral bankruptcy, the orthodox leadership would do well to engage the Ahmadiyya Muslims in a theological, civilized, intellectual debate and thereby show a modicum of respect for the faith, intellect and convictions of ordinary Muslim citizens and others.
The sectarian politics of religious mobilization and its current manifestations will have divisive implications for the country's plural future. Clearly, banning the movement to prevent its spiritual appeal or declaring it a non-Muslim minority to stop its growth is not the business of a secular government. Leaders of the country and conscientious citizens would do well to reflect over the politically disastrous and socially divisive legacy of Pakistan's experiment with the criminalization of the Ahmadiyya sect. Social scientists and political analysts have, in recent times, traced the growth of Muslim extremism and cultural intolerance in Pakistan and elsewhere, to the divisive politics of anti-Ahmadiyya rhetoric.
At one level, what is at stake is the very notion of human rights and rule of law in a secular democracy. Extremists and right-wing Muslim orthodoxy should not be allowed to dictate the future of Indonesian identity. At another level, perhaps even more importantly, what is at stake for devout Muslims is the very meaning of being a Muslim in our times. After all, the Holy Qur’an explicitly states: "Let there be no compulsion in matters of faith." Islam's plural character and legacy of religious tolerance needs to be defended, ironically enough, against an "orthodoxy" that claims to represent it!
In an article published on The Hindu, one of India’s leading newspapers, on June 15, 2013, Pallavi Iyer has thrown searching light on the persecution of Ahmadis and other minority religious denominations and the growing signs of cultural intolerance in Indonesia, the world’s largest Muslim country.
Read the Article:
Over the last few years, Jakarta has laid down legal infrastructure that discriminates against religious minorities, allowing Islamists to take the law into their own hands