Sat, 27 Aug 1994

Jakarta, three other provinces outlaw Al Arqam

JAKARTA (JP): Jakarta, Central Java, East Java and West Nusa Tenggara followed five other provinces yesterday in outlawing the Al Arqam, an Islamic movement headquartered in Malaysia.

The ban in Jakarta came just one week after statements by the city's military and police chiefs saying that the Al Arqam has not posed any threat to the city's security.

Yet, an edict by the Jakarta High Prosecutor's Office announced yesterday said that the movement has the potential to disturb the peace and order.

The reasoning used by Jakarta, Central Java, East Java and West Nusa Tenggara in banning the Arqam movement is almost the same as that used by West Java and Riau which announced bans on Thursday and North Sumatra on Monday. West Sumatra outlawed the movement as far back as 1990 and Aceh in 1992.

The edicts also carefully avoided stating faith as the reason although many Moslem organizations, including the influential Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI), said Arqam's teachings deviated from Islamic principles.

The edict of the West Nusa Tenggara High Prosecutor's office was the exception to the rule as it added another reason for the ban. "The ban is meant to prevent any illegal spiritual beliefs from entering the province," according to the edict, a copy of which was made available by the Attorney General's office in Jakarta.


The Nahdlatul Ulama, Indonesia's largest Moslem organization, however, opposed the move to ban the organization, at least not on religious grounds, saying that many of the practices of Arqam are similar to its own. A number of noted Moslem scholars have also warned that the Arqam must not be banned because of its teachings.

With yesterday's bans, Arqam is now only permitted in the special territory of Yogyakarta, Java, where it has a large following.

Ahmadi Rafei, the leader of Arqam's Java I area, which also covers Jakarta, was not at his office yesterday afternoon to comment on the ban.

"Our leader is still in Serang, West Java, for a series of religious activities and will only be back on Sunday," Ubadah Al Afqari, secretary to Ahmadi told The Jakarta Post yesterday.

Attorney General Singgih said on Thursday that the central government is leaving the decision on whether or not to ban the Al Arqam to the provincial governments, pending the completion of its own investigation into the movement's activities.

The investigation was initiated this month at the urging of the MUI and also followed immediately after Malaysia, where the movement is headquartered, outlawed the organization for political reasons. (02)