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Indonesian groups press for Islamic law JAKARTA - Muslim groups are upping the pressure on lawmakers here to introduce Islamic law in the country, with thousands taking to the streets in several cities yesterday calling for the Syariah to be incorporated in the Constitution. In Jakarta, members and supporters of 10 Muslim groups were led by clerics, including terror suspect Abu Bakar Bashir, to the National Assembly (MPR), where they urged legislators to amend the Constitution and make Islamic law applicable to all Muslims. The groups were backed by Vice-President Hamzah Haz, who earlier in the day praised their movement in a speech marking the fourth anniversary of the radical Islamic Defenders' Front (FPI).
In the speech read out on his behalf by Religious Affairs Minister Said Agil Munawar, he said: 'I agree gladly with the steps being taken by my friends from the FPI to create a nation with strong discipline in the practice of religion.' He said the Muslim community had no choice but to support all steps being taken to make life more meaningful through the application of strong religious teachings. However, despite his backing, calls for Islamic law have received little support in the MPR. Only two political parties support its introduction, and the notion is likely to be dismissed by MPR members later this week.
Mr Hamzah's United Development Party and the Crescent Star Party have argued that incorporating the Syariah in the Constitution - a proposal rejected by Indonesia's founding fathers 57 years ago - will save the nation from further moral degradation. However, Lt-General Agus Wijoyo, one of the MPR's four deputy speakers, told The Straits Times: 'Our Constitution was agreed on in 1945 to accommodate the country's pluralism. This situation hasn't changed now.' He said the inclusion of the Syariah in the Constitution would lead to state intervention in religious freedom. Even in separatist Aceh - the only province where the Syariah has been adopted - local authorities have not been able to agree on its implementation.
Indonesia's largest Muslim organisations - the Muhammadiyah and the Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) - have also opposed any move to adopt the Syariah, fearing it will lead to national disintegration. Lt-Gen Agus met representatives of Muslim organisations - grouped under the banner of the Indonesian Islamic Forum - yesterday. During the meeting, FPI chairman Habib Rizieq Shihab said that the only way to improve the social and political situation in Indonesia was to improve the morality of the country's 200 million Muslims. 'Political parties that do not support the Syariah are satanic parties,' he said.



Posted in Religion @ 06 August 2002 00:01 CET by Jeroen · 'Blog' RSS feed · permalink






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