Sun, 06 Aug 2000

Indonesian Mujahiddin holds first congress in Yogyakarta

YOGYAKARTA (JP): Some 5,000 Muslims converged on the Kridosono Sports Stadium here on Saturday to attend the first Indonesian Mujahiddin Congress, with calls for Syariah Islam (Islamic Law) to be applied in the country.

The participants, including women and children, from various parts of the country, first enjoyed the congress' opening ceremony, followed by the first day's speakers.

The congress' organizing committee chairman, Irfan S. Awwas, told The Jakarta Post that the congress' main agenda was to discuss the application of Syariah Islam in Indonesia, and the world in general.

Addressing the gathering, Irfan said that people have their individual rights to practice their religion. "There is no reason for the government to prohibit Muslims from applying and upholding Syariah Islam."

A senior kyai (elder) from Madura island, Alawy Muhammad, said in his opening speech that such a congress was worth supporting. "I, personally, support this congress, which is aimed at the union of Muslims. Muslims must unit. Through this congress we are seeking imamah leaders and khalifah (religious leaders) to lead us (Muslims) who are now separated one from each other," he said, citing a Koranic verse which states that it is imperative that Muslims (on earth) have a leader.

He also warned the country's Muslims not to make the same mistakes as the Turkish Mustafa Kamal Attaturk did, which turned Turkey into a secular country.

Another speaker, Ahmad Syahirul Alim, from Yogyakarta, stressed that the 1945 Constitution guarantees the people's freedom to practice their own religion.

"Applying Syariah Islam is part of ibadah (practicing Islamic teaching). Therefore, the state is obliged to protect Muslims practicing Syariah Islam," said the noted Muslim scholar.

Asep Mausul Affandi of Tasik Malaya, West Java, shared his opinion, urging Muslims to fight for the reapplication of the Jakarta Chapter. The Jakarta Chapter was an historic document formulated on June 22, 1945, containing the old version of Pancasila that explicitly requires Muslims to apply and practice Syariah Islam.

The Pancasila version now taken as the state ideology is mentioned in the preamble of the 1945 Constitution.

According to the organizing committee, the congress, which will cost Rp 652 million, has nothing to do with the People's Consultative Assembly Annual Session or other political issues.

Organizing committee member Purnama said Yogyakarta's Sultan Hamengkubuwono X was also invited. But he was not seen among the participants.

Ayip Syafruddin Soeratman, chairman of Ahlu Sunnah wal Jamaah, a militant organization known as Laskar Jihad, said he was invited to the Mujahiddin congress, but said he was sorry for failing to attend. "But we fully support the congress."

Among the prominent participants are Jakarta-based Muslim scholar Deliar Noor, Rusli Biki from Jakarta and Moedrick Sangidu from Surakarta.

The first day ended with many of the participants joining a procession of motorbikes driving around the city. The congress is scheduled to end on Aug. 7.(swa/sur)