Suryadharma Ali, Minister of Religious Affairs, in Hot Water over ‘Heresy’ Outburst


  When an Islamist leader here finds himself being told off by leaders of Muslim organisations like Muhammadiyah, the NU and even the ante-deluvians of the MUI, it tends to suggest he’s got such a big gob he must have jammed his foot half-way down it.


And few religious or political leaders here are quite as big-mouthed as Suryadharma Ali, Minister of Religous Affairs, whose latest irresponsible, trouble-making outburst has shocked just about everyone.


After the violence and arson in East Java between Sunni and Shia Muslims, people have been trying, some more adeptly than others, to calm things down, though a few proposals have been hare-brained - predictably that of the MUI local big-wig, who wanted the innocent Shiah shifted to another location. Bright bunch, the MUI, punish the innocent, leave their land and property to the guilty.
But just about everyone avoided the H word.

Calling people heretics is not only harsh and arbitrary but, in the case of the Shiites,  might offend Tehran, with whom Jakarta has fairly cordial relations. Even the MUI managed to restrain its witch-hunting energies, many of which have anyway been expended on their persecution of the Ahmadiyah.

But NOT so Suryadharma Ali!  The Jakarta Post 27/1 gave him full coverage.

Ali based his accusations on 1980s statements by the Nadhlatul Ulema, the largest Muslim organisation, and the MUI.

But the NU quickly disowned his outburst. Their Malik Mahdani ‘regretted’ the Ministerial statement, ‘saying that it had been unwise to use the word ‘heresy.’We must be careful not ot use the word, because it could provoke anarchic actions towards Shiite communities nationwaide.’ Another major player Muhammadiyah, also took a dim view. “Chairman Din Sansyuddin said ‘Suryadharma’s statement was politically motivated.‘ and ‘reflected his poor understanding of history of Islamic civilisation.’ Ali is in the Cabinet as leader of the PPP Islamist party.

The JP didn’t find a quote from the MUI in today’s edition, but I did, in the 16/1 issue, in which their inflammatory twit in East java was slapped down forcefully. Head of the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) Ma’aruf amin has asked the government to protect the Shia followers who are currently taking refuge following the burning down of their boarding school in Sampang, Madura.

“Please don’t let any violence befall them. We should be very critical in responding to this situation. No one should label Shia as heresy,” Amin said on Monday as quoted by tempo.co. The statement was made in response to the head of the MUI Sampang Bukhori Maksum who had previously announced that the Shia followers in Sampang were heretics, as they had deviated from the true teachings of Islam.

Nice to see a fool put in his place, but I did ponder, as I read the Muslim leaders’ words on the folly of bandying about the insult ‘heretic,’  how easy it would have been for them to have been similarly cautious in thus castigating the harmless Ahmadiyah. It’s just two weeks till the anniversary of the Cikeusik Pogrom, where three innocent men were martyred by a thousand Islamist swine.

The murder-gang’s excuse, as they chanted Allahu Akbar and smashed a helpless victim’s skull, was that those Ahmadis were ‘heretics.

Yes, the killers should be executed, but who else bears responsibility for that heinous crime.

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