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Muslim sect wants recognition, safety

March 11, 2006 at 12:56 PM

JAKARTA, March 11 (UPI) -- A rift between Muslim groups and a sect which considers itself Muslim has incited violence and brought Indonesian politicians into the debate.

With 200,000 followers in Indonesia and millions around the world, the Jemaah Ahamdiyah wants to be accepted as a branch of the Muslim faith.

But, the Singapore Straits Times reports, mainstream Muslim groups are demanding it renounce its claim to Islam. Violent attacks have escalated recently, including the burning of homes of 100 people now living in a shelter.

Maftuh Basyuni, Religious Affairs minister of Indonesia, has told the group to declare itself another religion to receive government protection from harassment.

Ahmadi spokesman Mubarik Ahmad called the plan "ridiculous."

"We are Muslims who pray five times a day, fast during Ramadan and believe in the same Koran," he said.

The main difference cited by opponents is that the group believes their founder, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, was a prophet following the Prophet Mohammed.

Most Muslims claim Mohammed was the final prophet.

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