An Indonesian province has banned a minority Islamic sect from performing religious activities. The activists in Indonesia have showed their concern over the move.
Banga-Belitung which is made up of two islands off South Sumatra, has issued the ban. It is considered to be the latest in a series in which religious minority groups like Christians and Shiite Muslims have faced discrimination and harassment, as reported by Independent.
Fery Insani, a senior official in the local government told that the Ahmediyah had a right to live in Bangka. However, he also stated that in a meeting with community leaders and religious figures, it was decided that they could not conduct activities like spreading their religion.
He further stated, “If the board of the Ahmadiyah community does not return to Islam, we have agreed that the board should leave Bangka and go back to where they belong.”
Tarmizi Saat, Bangka island’s top elected official had, reportedly, told a crowd on January 24 that he would ensure the removal of all religious minority by February 6. The Ahmadiyah sect members’ fears were further fueled by an open letter, which warned, “won’t want to be held accountable if ugly things happen.”
Human Rights Watch confirmed that the local government officials and residents had started a month long campaign in which their prime aim was to convert the island’s Islamic sect members to Sunni Islam. The Ahmediahs identify themselves as Muslims but do not consider Muhammad as the final monotheist prophet which is why they are perceived as heretics by other Muslims.
The Ahmadiyah community members said that the official pressure to leave the island started in December 14, 2015. The decision of the eviction was taken in a meeting where 82 people , including 5 Ahmadiyahs were present and the meeting took place in a government office in Sungailiat town.
Deputy director in human rights watch’s Asia Division, Phelim Kine said, “Bangka officials are conspiring with Muslim groups to unlawfully expel Ahmadiyah community members from their homes”.
Kine also emphasized that President Joko Widodo should demonstrate his opposition to the discrimination and harassment on the Ahmadiyas and must act against those officials who are trying to deprive the Islamic sect from their rights. He added, “President Joko Widodo needs to immediately intervene to uphold the Ahmadiyah’s rights and to punish officials who advocate religious discrimination.”