Tue, 09 Aug 1994

Government bans book published by Al Arqam

JAKARTA (JP): Attorney General Singgih yesterday announced the ban against another book published by the Malaysia-based Al Arqam movement, saying that its content could incite conflicts among Moslems in Indonesia.

The book, entitled Presiden Soeharto Ikut Jadual Allah (President Soeharto follows Allah's schedule), carries the picture of the President on its cover and is written by the Al Arqam leader Abuya Syeikh Imam Ashaari Muhammad, who has been persona non grata in Indonesia since last week.

"This book is banned because the content could disrupt peace and public order, and could incite conflict within the Islamic community and between people of different faiths in Indonesia," Singgih told reporters after meeting with Soeharto at the Bina Graha presidential office.

"This is a matter of SARA," he said, using the Indonesian term to denote issues considered politically sensitive, which deal with issues of ethnicity, religion or race.

"Those who have a copy of the book had better turn it over," he added.

The book, originally published in Malaysia in 1993, has been reprinted in Indonesia by the local Al Arqam publication company. This is the third book by the Al Arqam, popularly known as Darul Arqam here, to be banned in Indonesia.

The government has been under pressure to ban the Darul Arqam, the name of the movement in Indonesia, from the Indonesian Ulemas Council (MUI), who says Arqam's teachings have deviated from Islamic principles.

Malaysia formally banned the organization on its soil last week.

Asked whether the ban against the book was a prelude to outlawing the organization in Indonesia, Singgih said the two were separate matters.

"I still have to study the opinions of the minister of religious affairs, the security apparatus and the MUI," said Singgih, whose office has the power to ban any organization.

"Just because Malaysia has banned it, doesn't mean that we will follow suit," he said. "We have to think this through carefully and take everything into consideration before I can put my signature (on the order.)"


The Attorney General yesterday also reported to the President about the status of a land dispute in Kedungombo, Central Java. The case became a major controversy after the Supreme Court ruled against the government in favor of the displaced farmers.

Singgih said his office yesterday formally submitted its petition for a review of the court case by the Supreme Court, citing its objection to 31 points in the Court's ruling.

The government, for example, is objecting to the Rp 2 billion "non-material" losses it had to pay the farmers. It is also objecting to the suggestion that there was never any attempt to settle the issue peacefully with the farmers.

He denied the suggestion that the government was using its power to influence the Court. "We're pursuing this through legal channels and we want to settle this matter through legal means."

The Supreme Court, in reversing the rulings of two lower courts, ordered the government to pay Rp 50,000 per meter square to the displaced farmers, as compared to the Rp 4,000 offered by the government and the Rp 10,000 sought by the farmers.

On Saturday, the Semarang District Court in Central Java said that it had received an order from the Supreme Court for stay of implementation of the ruling pending the outcome of the case review. (emb)