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'Ahmadiyah should be respected as well' JAKARTA - A series of attacks on followers of the Ahmadiyah religious sect in Indonesia has once again drawn criticism, with an expert in religion and democracy urging the government to exercise its authority when there are violations of human rights.

Alfred C. Stepan, director of the Center for the Study of Democracy, Toleration and Religion at Columbia University in New York, said on the sidelines of a discussion that while the government must keep a principal distance, the separation did not mean the state should never get involved in religious matters.

"They should think more about whether there are circumstances in which they have to act quickly because I think it is the government's responsibility if people's rights are in peril," he said. Followers of the Ahmadiyah group are deemed heretics by mainstream Muslims for recognising sect founder Mirza Ghulam Ahmad as the last prophet. Islamic teachings maintain that the Prophet Muhammad is the last prophet.

The Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) issued an edict officially declaring Ahmadiyah to be a heretical sect. For years, followers of the religious sect have suffered attacks from various Muslim groups. Some of the attacks, which involved hard-line Muslims, resulted in the fire-bombing of Ahmadiyah mosques and houses.

Stepan said the attacks were violations of human rights and therefore the government's intervention was needed. "It is the duty of a democratic government to protect its people's rights even if they have to act against some people's freedom," he said. Although such measures should not go against the constitution, he said. In the discussion, Stepan also said that Indonesia was a place where democracy and religions coexisted.


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Posted in Religion @ 16 October 2009 12:33 CET by Jeroen · 'Blog' RSS feed · permalink






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