Indonesia trial opens over attack on sect

Rights groups hope the trial will help reduce attacks on religious minorities.

    Indonesia has long been proud of its diverse ethnicity, cultures and spiritual beliefs. However, recent attacks on minority groups such as the Ahmadiyah sect and on Christian churches have critics claiming that religious tolerance is on the decline.

    Twelve people in Indonesia are set to face trial on Tuesday, accused of killing three Ahmadiyah followers in West Java, in February. The savage nature of the murders, captured on tape, shocked the nation. 

    Human rights groups hope the trial will help to reduce attacks on religious minorities [AFP]

    Rights groups hope the trial will help reduce to attacks on religious minorities.

    Phil Robertson, from Human Rights Watch, told Al Jazeera there was a concern for the security of the witnesses.

    "We want to make sure that the government of Indonesia takes the necessary precautions to ensure that the witnesses are not intimidated," he said.

    The Ahmadiyah sect, which claims 500,000 followers in Indonesia, believes that its founder Mirza Ghulam Ahmad was the final prophet and not Muhammed, contradicting a central tenet of mainstream Islam.

    In 2008, the Indonesian government issued a joint ministerial decree that bans the Ahmadiyah from practising their faith in public or spreading the belief.
     
    Al Jazeera's Step Vaessen reports from the scene of the killings, where the locals say a lack of leadership on the issue offers tacit approval to Islamic hardliners that is fuelling a growing intolerance.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera


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