Clerics Seek Police Probe Of Islamic Leader

Source: Associated Press

A group of Indonesian clerics on Wednesday formally asked Indonesian police to investigate a prominent Islamic intellectual for writing an article urging a reinterpretation of Islamic law.

The Forum of Indonesian Clerics and Islamic Followers said the article byUlil Abshar-Abdalla violated Indonesian law by spreading hatred against Muslims.

The column, titled “Freshening up the understanding of Islam,” appeared in the Nov. 18 edition of Kompas daily newspaper. It argues some aspects of Islamic law, or shariah, are no longer relevant and need reinterpretation.

Abshar-Abdalla heads the Islamic Liberal Network, which runs a Web site and hosts regular discussions on radio shows. The group has often irritated hardline religious organizations in the world’s most populous Muslim nation.

“Let’s go to court,” he told The Associated Press. “See how the trial process goes then we will know who is right and who is wrong.” Police weren’t immediately available for comment on the complaint.

Under Indonesian law, people found guilty of “insulting or spreading hatred against religion” can be punished by a maximum of five years’ imprisonment.

Athian Ali M. Dai, the head of the clerics’ forum, said Abshar-Abdalla’s article had “spread hatred and hostility against other Muslims with different views.”