TAPOL condemns restrictions against Ahmadiyah members

11 Jun 2008
The decision announced on 9 June by the Ministers of the Interior and Religious Affairs and the Attorney General to impose severe restrictions on members of Ahmadiyah in the practice of their beliefs according to their own understanding of Islam represents a serious setback in Indonesia’s advance towards democracy. The decision even makes members of Ahmadiyah liable to criminal prosecution for the practice of their beliefs.

By imposing a virtual ban on Ahmadiyah, the government has acted in violation of Indonesia’s Constitution which states in Article 28: ‘Each person is free to worship and to practice the religion of his choice.’

It is deeply disturbing that the government has allowed itself to be brow-beaten by a group of people who have even resorted to acts of violence against members of Ahmadiyah in pursuit of their campaign of vilification and in their determination to have the sect banned. Carmel Budiardjo of TAPOL said: 'It is highly regrettable that the government of Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has succumbed to a campaign of violence, perhaps believing that by stopping short of an outright ban, it is still acting within the terms of the Constitution.'

TAPOL calls upon the Indonesian Government to immediately withdraw this decision in order to restore Indonesia’s reputation as a country that is seeking to put more than three decades of authoritarian rule behind it and uphold the principles of freedom of expression and freedom of worship as clearly stipulated in its Constitution.