Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Indonesia Persecutes Liberal Muslim Sect

The Ahmadiyah back in the late seventies when I was Political Officer for Internal Affairs in Saudi Arabia vexed the Ulema in Riyadh no end. The somewhat heterodox liberal sect boasted the only Islamic Nobel Prize in science at the time [and perhaps even today?] and in Pakistan was gaining in influence. The Ulema forbade Ahmadiyah to enter Mecca and the Kaabah, denying that it was orthodox & therefore "haram."

The Saudi religious leaders have had billions to spend in Dawa over the ensuing decades & have now established the puritan Wahhabi brand of Islam as paramount across the vast panoply of Islam from Sub-Sahara Africa to the Uighurs of western China. The rabid zealots of Wahhabism are besieging Ahmadiyah mosques in Indonesia after the country's president issued an edict forbidding the Ahmadiyah to "disseminate" their religion, effectively declaring it haram in a semi-secular context. Bizarre as that sounds, it only encourages the zealots in various parts of Indonesia, including Aceh in northern Sumatra, to depart from their peaceful ways---religious tinder has a tendency to flare easily even in the languid humidity of Indonesia.

The Saudis have a triumphalist streak and this capitulation to Wahhabism by the Indonesian president could have blowback on other aspects of Saudi policy, including a not very benign influence on boosting oil production---who knows?

In any event, religious intolerance is rampant in Muslim lands and the article rightly asks if Christians are next.

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