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Page last updated at 06:54 GMT, Sunday, 20 April 2008 07:54 UK

Indonesians demand ban on sect

Anti-Ahmadiyya poster at a rally in Jakarta, Indonesia, on Sunday
Protesters reject the Ahmadiyya claim that their founder was a prophet

About 2,000 people have gathered in the Indonesian capital, Jakarta, to protest against a minority Muslim sect, the Ahmadiyya community.

Speakers outside the presidential palace demanded the group be banned.

That was what a government panel recommended last week, saying the Ahmadiyya's beliefs went against Islam as practised in Indonesia.

But the Ahmadiyya argue that, like other minorities, they are protected under the Indonesian constitution.

The Ahmadis believe their own founder, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, who died in 1908 in India, was a prophet.

That contradicts the belief of most Muslims, who think the Prophet Muhammad was the last prophet.

The Ahmadiyya face persecution in many countries.

Passions high

Sunday's demonstration brought together hard-line Islamic groups and more established Muslim organisations - all believe that Ahmadis are non-Muslims.

Protesters at an anti-Ahmadiyya rally in Jakarta, Indonesia, on Sunday
Protesters fear Ahmadiyya beliefs could challenge mainstream Islam

As well as a ban, the speakers called on the protesters to drive the Ahmadiyya out of Indonesia.

The protesters clearly felt very strongly about this issue, reports the BBC's Lucy Williamson at the protest.

They see the Ahmadiyya's beliefs as a threat to mainstream Islam - and many see a vote for pluralism as a vote for Western-style secularism, she says.

But President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono is in a difficult position. The constitution says Indonesians have a right to religious freedom.

The question is, our correspondent says, where the government will draw the line.


SEE ALSO
Violent Dhaka rally against sect
23 Dec 05 |  South Asia
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