Horse-mounted police officers are seen during a security show of force ahead of the upcoming Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr, marking the end of Ramadan, at the National Monument in Jakarta, Indonesia, on June 19, 2017. Photo courtesy of Reuters/Agoes Rudianto

Indonesian Islamic sect members say they're denied state IDs over their beliefs

JAKARTA, Indonesia (Reuters) Members of an Indonesian Islamic sect have issued a complaint that their human rights were breached by a local government refusing to issue them state ID cards unless they renounce their belief, a rights group said.

The Ahmadiyah identify themselves as Muslims but believe another prophet followed the Prophet Muhammad, who founded Islam. Many mainstream Muslims and hard-line groups accuse the sect and other Muslim minorities of apostasy.

A mob of 1,000 people beat to death three Ahmadis in an unprovoked attack in a village in Banten province, west of Jakarta, in 2011 and activists say the group continues to face discrimination.

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Indonesia's reputation for tolerance has come under renewed scrutiny since Jakarta Gov. Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, a Christian, was sentenced last month to two years in prison for blasphemy in a trial that came after mass Islamist-led rallies and raised religious tensions to the highest in years.

Sixteen people from the village of Manislor in West Java, representing 1,400 members of the sect, told the ombudsman on Tuesday (June 20) that their lives had been damaged by not having IDs for five years, said Syamsul Alam Agus, executive secretary of One Justice Foundation, a nonprofit organization.

Protesters carry placards that read "disband Ahmadiyya" during a demonstration calling for the banning of the Ahmadiyya sect in front of the presidential palace in Jakarta on June 18, 2008. Thousands of Indonesian Muslims rallied outside the presidential palace in Jakarta to press the government to ban the Ahmadiyya sect, regarded as heretical by many followers of Islam. Photo courtesy of Reuters/Dadang Tri

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Some were unable to register their marriages, Agus said, adding in one case an Ahmadi was refused treatment at a hospital because of a lack of ID.

According to Agus, in order to obtain ID documents, Ahmadis had to sign a form stating they were Muslims while reading the Shahada, an Islamic creed declaring belief in the oneness of God and Muhammad as God's prophet.

"Not giving an electronic ID card to Manislor's Ahmadiyah followers is not only a violation of human rights, but also breaking the law," Agus said.

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Indonesia requires a person to state their religion on official ID cards.

The ombudsman felt there had been maladministration at the local Kuningan government where Manislor is located but had not formally issued any recommendation, said Ahmad Su'adi, an ombudsman official, adding that "the state cannot force people" to denounce or join a religion.

The Kuningan government could not be reached for comment on Wednesday, but in a June 2016 post on its website, the head of the Kuningan regency, Acep Purnama, defended its refusal to hand out identity documents to followers of Ahmadiyah and an animist belief, Sunda Wiwitan.

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"We are not discriminating or being intolerant ... but this is an issue of principle that has to be resolved together and must be accepted by all Kuningan people. This isn't about majority or minority," he was quoted as saying.

Earlier this month, the government of Depok city near Jakarta sealed off a mosque frequently used by Ahmadis during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, according to media reports.

Muslims make up nearly 90 percent of Indonesia's 250 million people but there are sizable communities of Buddhists, Hindus, Christians and people who adhere to traditional beliefs.


  1. How poor Ahmadies can expect any relaxation when powerful person is also charged on the basis of law which has no basis and founding in the holy Quran. Problem is the addiction of power forces the rulers to close their eyes from absolute justice and open their eyes when suddenly they start facing jolts. Pakistan is living example of a failed state where religious fanaticism has surpassed all the barriers. If Indonesia which once was famous for tolerance and human values wants to follow the footsteps of Pakistan no one can then help this great nation.

  2. It seems the secular (or quasi- secular) governments with a Muslim majority are in a battle against the rising tide of Islamism and fundamentalism.

  3. “A mob of 1,000 people beat to death three Ahmadis in an unprovoked attack in a village in Banten province, west of Jakarta, in 2011 and activists say the group continues to face discrimination.” They still cannot even get along with each other.

  4. Thankfully, there’s all kinds of good ‘words and attitudes’ that continually circulate in the Christian world that makes it the most peaceful of all, but it takes much work to make them happen all the time.

    Here’s some examples —
    1. Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in your brother’s way…..Romans 14:13
    2. Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God…..Romans 15:7
    3. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love….Ephesians 4:2
    4. …all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble….1 Peter 3:8
    5. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves…..Philippians 2:3
    6. Be peaceable and considerate, and always to be gentle toward everyone…..Titus 3:2
    7. Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven…..Luke 6:37
    8. ABOVE ALL, LOVE EACH OTHER DEEPLY, because love covers over a multitude of sins….1 Peter 4:8
    9. Let your gentle spirit be known to all men…..Philippians 4:5
    10. Don’t seek your own good, but the good of others…….. 1 Corinthians 10:24
    11. Follow after the things that make for peace……Romans 14:19
    12. In everything, treat others as you would want them to treat you, for this fulfills the law and the prophets………Matthew 7:12
    13. Do to others as you would have them do to you………Luke 6:31
    14. Honor everyone……….1 Peter 2:17
    15. Continue to love each other……….Hebrews 13:1
    16. Be devoted to each other with mutual affection. Excel at showing respect for each other……Romans 12:10

  5. Herein lies the difference between religious tolerance and religious freedom. Religious freedom entails a separation of church and state. A government which is not entangled with any given faith.

    Religious tolerance is merely to exist at the sufferance of the opinion of the majority or politically powerful faith. Such conditions can be revoked at will and a minority faith or erst is always a subordinate member of the society.

    No free society exists when it is beholden to any given religion. Makes no difference what religion is invoked.

  6. You have point. But just dive in the history of early Islamic era. Both aspects mentioned by you were implemented amicably by Muslim countries and rulers. Islam presents a codes of life universal in nature and can be implemented provided some one has lust and will to do.

  7. Secular government, any hint of rulership not entangled with religion wasn’t a thing in the western world until the 18th Century United States (but still not in most of Europe) and wasn’t in Muslim majority countries until the 20th century with Ataturk and then post colonial leaders. Religious tolerance existed prior to that, but not religious freedom. The notion of a modern state entwined with Islamic belief wasn’t a thing until 1979.

    No religion forms the basis of a free society. When any religion is entangled with the state, sectarian discrimination is a given. You may find elements in Islam which extol freedom to all, but others find pretext for tyranny. This is true for any religion which gains political power and government favor.

    So don’t feel like I am criticizing your religious beliefs here. I tell the same thing to the “Christian Nation” as well. Nobody’s freedom is dependent on your beliefs.

  8. “No religion forms the basis of a free society”. Well your this quote is debatable. Holy scripture of Islam clearly states no compulsion in religion forming a base for free society. The direct recipient of the revelations, Prophet of Islam (saw) in his period ensured it. Later if no one acted on it is not the fault of religion rather is of those who took control of politics and powers.

  9. No, my views are borne of history. There is nothing debatable about it. Every government with a state religion attacks or has attacked the freedom of other faiths in one form or another.

    There has never been religious freedom in nations which have entangled themselves with a given faith. It simply is not possible. Free exercise of religion for all can’t exist when government favors and is beholden to one faith. Favor for one faith means others will not be taken as seriously.

    You may find elements in Islam which extol religious freedom, but it is your interpretation. Others find quite the opposite. Neither have the ability to support their views beyond the same method of special pleading and insistence. All religions suffer from this fault.

    “it is not the fault of religion rather is of those who took control of politics and powers.”

    True, it is the fault in thinking government and religion are one in the same. That laws must finding to any given faith.

  10. Well I again repeat, Islam forms the basis of free society and very explicitly it was shown and practiced by its founder. Later all evaporated. There you are right when politics, religion and many other things mixed up.

  11. You are welcomed to your beliefs here. I do not dispute that you sincerely believe democracy and freedom are compatible and integral to your faith as a Muslim. It works for you.

    All religions become toxic to freedom once they we entangled with the apparatus of state. No government ever abides by religious freedom as a function of articles of a given faith.

    An appreciation of religious freedom involves understanding that although you find your faith a wonderful guiding principle for your life, others do not not. Freedom comes from respecting the right of others to disagree or ignore what your faith says on a given subject.

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