Indonesian Islamic hard-liners call for banning of religious sect

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April 20, 2008 09:24

Several thousand Islamic hard-liners protested Sunday in Indonesia's capital, calling for the banning of a Muslim sect they consider heretical. A crowd of white-clad woman, children and men chanted, "Disband Ahmadiyah!" at the downtown National Monument. Police estimated about 3,000 people participated in the noisy, but peaceful demonstration. Ahmadiyah was founded at the end of the 19th century in Pakistan, where it is banned, and conservative Muslims claim it was devised by British colonialists to divide Muslims. The protest came days after a team of prosecutors, religious scholars and government officials said the sect "had deviated from Islamic principles" and recommended Wednesday that it be outlawed. Indonesia is a secular country, with a long history of religious tolerance. But in recent years, a hard-line fringe has grown louder and the government - which relies on the support of Islamic parties in Parliament - has been accused of caving to it.


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