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Indonesian Islamic Militants Prepare for War against Islamic Sect


Islamic militants in Indonesia say they are preparing for a war against a minority Muslim sect. VOA'S Nancy-Amelia Collins in Jakarta reports.

With his supporters shouting "God is great " Habib Rizhiq, leader of the militant Islamic Defenders Front, or FPI, called on his followers Monday to wage war against a minority sect, Ahmadiyah.

"I call on all our followers to prepare for war against Ahmadiyah," he said.

The Ahmadiyah group is considered to be a "deviant" Islamic sect by many Indonesians, because they believe Muhammad was not the final prophet, which contradicts a central belief of Islam.

Habib's call comes a day after dozens of FPI members attacked several hundred moderate Muslims and interfaith leaders marching for religious tolerance in the capital, Jakarta.

Police say at least a dozen people were injured in the attacks.

Television footage showed FPI members throwing rocks, chasing and beating people with batons before police intervened to stop the violence.

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono spoke out against Sunday's violence, saying it had sullied the country's reputation, and called on the police to arrest those responsible for the mayhem.

Yudhoyono has been criticized for failing to speak out against the growing religious intolerance.

Indonesia is a secular, democratic nation with the world's largest population of Muslims.

The vast majority practice a moderate form of the faith. However, in recent months, violent outbreaks centering on religious issues have become more common, especially against Ahmadiyah.

FPI leader Habib said he will not allow police to arrest any member of his group.

"We will not surrender any of our followers to the authorities before the banning of Ahmadiyah," he said. "We will fight back against anyone who tries to arrest us to the last drop of our blood."

The country's highest authority on Islam, the Indonesian Council of Ulemas, declared Ahmadiyah deviant in April and recommended the sect be outlawed.

The government has not taken any steps to outlaw the sect.

Moderate Islamic groups have rallied in support of Ahmadiyah and call on the government to protect its members and defend religious tolerance in the country.

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