JAKARTA More than 1,000 Indonesian Muslims gathered in front of the presidential palace on Sunday to press the government to ban a Muslim sect that has been branded heretical by most Muslims.
An Indonesian government team is drafting a decree that will ban the Ahmadiyya sect, which views itself as Muslim but has been branded a heretical group by the Indonesian Ulema Council, the secular country's highest Muslim authority.
Chanting "Allahu Akbar (God is Great)" and "Disband Ahmadiyya", the members of the Indonesian Muslim Forum (FUI), a group of about 50 Muslim organisations, urged President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to issue the decree.
"We are pushing the president to immediately issue a presidential decree disbanding Ahmadiyya," FUI Secretary General Muhammad Al Khaththath told Reuters.
The FUI also asked the government to capture Ahmadiyya's leaders and seize all its assets.
A team with officials from two government ministries and the attorney general's office has recommended the government ban the sect because its teachings deviate from the central tenets of Islam.
Mainstream Muslims reject Ahmadiyya's claim of the prophethood of its founder Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, who died in 1908 in India. Most Muslims believe that Mohammad is the last of the Prophets.
Some of the sect's other teachings are also considered deviant by both Sunni and Shia, the two major branches of Islam, and some Muslim countries do not accept the Ahmadiyyas as Muslim.
In the past, Islamic radicals have damaged mosques and other facilities belonging to Ahmadiyyas in Indonesia.
Indonesia is the world's most populous Muslim nation, but groups branded as deviant or heretical periodically spring up.
Around 85 percent of Indonesia's 226 million people are Muslims. Most of them are moderates who tolerate other beliefs.