Fri, 26 Aug 1994

Two more provinces ban the activities of Al Arqam

JAKARTA (JP): West Java and Riau yesterday joined three other provinces in banning the activities of the Al Arqam, an Islamic movement headquartered in Malaysia, from their territory.

Attorney General Singgih meanwhile confirmed 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.

West Sumatra has already banned the Darul Arqam, as the organization is better known in Indonesia, since 1990 and Aceh followed suit in 1992. North Sumatra jumped into the bandwagon last week.

The West Java and Riau high prosecutor's offices in separate decrees said that the ban was imposed because Arqam's activities were deemed to have the potential to disturb peace and order, Attorney General's office spokesman Basrief Arief told reporters.

The movement's activities could sow conflict within the Islamic community, Basrief said quoting the reasoning given by the West Java high prosecutor's office.

"The teaching and propagation of Darul Arqam could undermine national unity and cohesion, and are not consistent with the Pancasila ideology and the 1945 Constitution," according to the West Java decree.

The Arqam's headquarters in Depok will also have to be closed down because it falls within the jurisdiction of West Java, according to Antara.

Its leader Ahmadi Rafei was not available to comment on the ban last night.

The headquarters also oversees the group's activities in Jakarta where the Arqam is not subject to any ban. Jakarta Military Maj. Gen. Hendropriyono and Jakarta Police Chief Maj. Gen. Moch. Hindarto last week said the Arqam's activities in the Indonesian capital are not deemed as threatening.

Basrief did not rule out the possibility that the movement may eventually be banned nationwide.


The Attorney General's office is currently investigating the movement following demands from the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) and a host of other prominent Moslem organizations that the movement be banned because Arqam's teachings have deviated from Islamic principles.

Some noted Moslem scholars and leaders of the Nahdlatul Ulama, Indonesia's largest Moslem organization, however said they oppose the plan to ban the Al Arqam, saying that they did not find any fault in its teachings.

Attorney General Singgih said that pending the completion of his office's investigation, each provincial government could decide for itself on what position to take on the issue, based on local conditions.

Singgih also stressed that should the government move to ban Al Arqam, it would not be on the basis of the group's faith.

The government has already declared Al Arqam's spiritual leader Ashaari Mohammad, who is in exile in Jordan, as persona non grata, and barred three of the group's books.

The movement is already banned in Malaysia and Brunei. (02/emb)