CAIRO – Indonesia's top Muslim body has come under criticism after asking the police forces in Yogyakarta in Java to monitor, freeze or disband institutions or organizations run by Shiites, considering them as following a deviant sect.
“The Indonesian Ulemas Council (MUI) is intolerant and authoritarian. It is being dictated by Saudi Arabia,” Muslim intellectual Dawam Rahardjo, who is also rector of the Proklamasi 45 University in Yogyakarta, told Jakarta Post on Wednesday, January 8.
“This is an international political game. I have the proof because a friend of mine had specifically conducted research into this,” he said.
The MUI request to the ploce was made in a letter addressed to the Islamic Jihad Front (FJI).
The letter was issued in a reply to the FJI request from MUI to issue a fatwa declaring Shiite to be a deviant belief.
“Our consideration is security. If [Shia] causes restlessness, the organization should be disbanded or its activities frozen,” the council’s secretary, Kamaludiningrat, told The Jakarta Post on Tuesday.
It said its decision was based on a book published by the central MUI.
In the book, entitled Panduan Majelis Ulama Indonesia tentang Mengenal dan Mewaspadai Penyimpangan Syiah di Indonesia (Recognizing and being Alert to Shiite Deviation in Indonesia), the MUI mentions five deviant practices performed by Shiites, one of which, according to Kamaludiningrat, was that it did not believe in the Koran.
The book was earlier discussed at Gadjah Mada University’s mosque during an event that was attended by Sleman Regent Sri Purnomo.
During the discussion, Purnomo reportedly suggested kicking the Shiite community out of Yogyakarta.
Yogyakarta Police chief Brig. Gen. Haka Astana M. Widya said he had yet to read the letter yet.
“I am attending a leaders’ meeting in Jakarta,” Haka said via text message.
No Legal Basos
The Ulema’s edict was criticized by Yogyakarta Interfaith Brotherhood Forum (FPUB), as having no legal basis.
“It has no legal basis to ask the security apparatus to disband or freeze Shia,” Abdul Muhaimin, FPUB chairman said.
Separately, Edy Syarif, spokesperson of the Shiite-based Rausyan Fikr Institute, said the institute’s activities had been halted since Dec. 26 last year.
“We live in harmony with the community, just as we did when we were established in 1995,” Edy said.
Indonesia is the most populous Muslim state where Muslims make up 86.1 percent of Indonesia's 235 million population.
The Ulema council, established in 1975, has carved a key role for itself in the Muslim country.
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