There should not have been coercion of belief: Muhammadiyah chairman

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Displaced Shia women: Shia women from Sampang, Madura Island, East java, prepare iftar (breaking the fast) meals for at a low-cost apartment complex in Sidoarjo after they were forced to leave their homes. (JP)

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Displaced Shia women: Shia women from Sampang, Madura Island, East java, prepare for iftar (breaking the fast) meals at a low-cost apartment complex in Sidoarjo after they were forced to leave their homes. (JP)

Din Syamsuddin, the chairman of Indonesia’s second largest Muslim organization, Muhammadiyah, said on Saturday that there should not have been any forced belief in the process of reconciliation with the displaced Shiites in Sampang, Madura, East Java. Especially if it was led by government officials.

“There should have not been any coercion. If the government takes sides, it is unfair,” Din said in Jakarta as quoted by kompas.com.

Din made the remarks when he was asked to respond to reports on intimidation and threats against Shiites who insisted to stay in Karanggayam and Bluuran Sampang villages. They have reportedly been forced to convert if they want their safety be guaranteed.

Din reiterated that any coercion against Shiites in Sampang constituted a criminal act. The state should have taken action because every citizen is free to choose their own beliefs.

According to Din, the conflict in Sampang has to be settled based on the principle of freedom of religion.

Sunnis and Shiites have both contributed a lot to Islam, despite differences in perception on who really lead Muslims after Prophet Muhammad, Din said.

“Therefore, for you it’s your belief, and for me my belief. But we have to live side by side peacefully. If we can live peacefully with non-Muslims, why can’t be live in peace with fellow Muslims?” he asked.

Therefore Din hoped the groups would refrain from mocking each other. “Let God decide which truth is accepted, live side by side peacefully,” he said.

Sampang Shiite Spokesperson Hertasning Ichlas previously testified that the Sampang local administration had forced the Shiites to sign an agreement of nine points, which included their willingness to return to “the true teaching of Islam” as well as to condemning of the teachings of Shiite cleric Tajul Muluk, who is currently imprisoned over blasphemy.

According to Hertasning, several members of the Sampang Shia community had been asked to sign the agreement before Sampang Regent Fanan Hasib and Head of Sampang’s Municipal Political and National Unity Office (Kesbangpol) Rudi Setiadi.

 

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