This article published in Koran Tempo, 18th February 2006.

His Excellency Speaker of People’s Consultative Assembly Hidayat Nur Wahid

Let me convey my deepest condolence upon your statement as quoted by Antara News at 6th of February 2006. Your response on Jamaah Ahmadiyah Indonesia’s request for political asylum to Canada and Australia, who were persecuted in their homeland, had astonished me.

You said that their request of political asylum was weird. Is it weird for persecuted citizens, who were unprotected by their government, to ask for help from other countries? Isn’t it weirder to know that an Indonesian citizen, who was born and growing up in Indonesia, can be expelled from his own homeland just because of adhering different belief? Isn’t it weirder to see that an Indonesian was forbidden to perform religious worship in the mosque, while the constitution guarantee freedom to every resident to adhere to their respective religion and to perform their religious duties in accordance with their religion and that faith? Isn’t it weirder to find that the head of district made a decision letter (of banning Ahmadiyah teaching) that clearly violated the constitution without any warning from higher authorities?

I want to recall about your statements quoted by Antara News: ”In fact, the problem of Ahmadiyah will not be complicated if only they were consistent in being Muslim just as any other democrat Muslims in Indonesia.” “Why do not those people return to the Islamic mainstream teaching without such prophet of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad.” “Once they profess the religion of Islam, they have very clear boundary. I think it is better for them to be here in Indonesia and become Muslim society as any other societies to present an Indonesian nation.” “What is the matter of being (only) Muslim?”

I hardly can understand why People’s Consultative Assembly Speaker issued these statements, which raised very deep complexity. There are several impediments for this. First, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s progressive statements regarding freedom of religion. One of them asserted that state shall not interfere the citizen’s belief and faith.

If you, as a speaker of People’s Consultative Assembly, assumed that Islam has a definite boundary and measurement, therefore the state apparatus have the right to use this single measurement to persecute and expel the citizens, then do you regard President Yudhoyono’s statement subversive? On the other hand, would MUI (Indonesian Council of Ulama)’s fatwa of banning Ahmadiyah teaching, be included as violation against the constitution?

Second, your call upon the Ahmadis to return to Islam as any other Indonesian democrat Muslims, to me, is a contradictio in terminis. I think that the democrat Muslim respects other Muslim’s belief although it is not in accordance with his own belief. Democrat Muslim dares to be different and defend the right of anyone for having different perception and opinion.

Third, you simplified the problem and belittled other’s belief when you asked: what’s the matter of being (only) Muslim just as any other Muslim? Whatever argument behind one’s belief (and I think the Ahmadis have very strong argument for this, however deep your belief is that Muhammad is the last prophet). No one may belittle and deride their belief. Furthermore, the Ahmadis had been in Indonesia since before its independence.

Fourth, I believe that different spectrum of Indonesian Muslim groups is sunnatullah (God’s law). If we ignore this persecution, not only it will victimize the Ahmadis, but also other group that against the mainstream.

Fifth, I am definitely sure that this beloved country has a clear constitution that protects freedom of religion, including Ahmadiyah. I am sure that you understand well that state has ratificated the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the Social, Economic, and Cultural Rights, and also approved the Universal Declaration of Human Rights 1948, and had human rights law. That is why I think that your statements were unproductive –not to say reckless- no matter whether you conveyed it on your capacity as speaker of People’s Consultative Assembly, or as former chairman of Justice and Welfare Party, or even as individual.

This open letter is a form of sense belonging from an Indonesian citizen who does not want this country being destroyed by the flames of hatred and egoism, and who wishes for having wise and sensible leaders.

Source: JIL