Radical Group: Lions, Rotarians Are ‘Infidels’
By Nivell Rayda
An ultra-conservative Islamic group called on Indonesian Muslims Sunday to quit two US-founded international business and social clubs, claiming they were linked to the Zionist and the Freemasonry movements and secretly supported Israel.
The leader of the Indonesian Forum of Ulema and Muslims, or FUUI, which has forcibly stopped Christian church services and called for a ban on the Ahamdiyah Islamic sect, said that Muslims who did not quit the Rotary Club and Lions Club, which have chapters worldwide including in Indonesia, would be labeled as infidels.
“The Rotary Club and the Lions Club are the Zionists’ accomplices,” Athian Ali Muhammad Da’i said in a telephone interview from his headquarters in Bandung, West Java Province, on Sunday. “They gather funds and give them to America and the Israeli Zionists. We urge all Muslims to renounce membership in the Rotary Club and the Lions Club. Otherwise, they can consider themselves infidels.”
Da’i, who in 2002 issued a death fatwa against an Indonesian Muslim scholar for writing a commentary against conservative views on Islam, has been preaching about alleged links between the clubs and Zionism since last year. On his blog, fuui.wordpress.com, Da’i elaborates on his charges against the two clubs.
“The Lions Club and the Rotary Club have introduced Jewish ideals to their Muslim members,” he writes.
“They also seek information from the members, which are prominent figures in Indonesia’s government and society, which can be used for the Zionists’ political and economic agenda.”
Dean Boulding, vice president of the Jakarta-Menteng Rotary Club, the oldest and largest Rotary club in Indonesia, called the allegations “laughable,” saying such claims has been circulating since the club’s formation in the US city of Chicago in 1905.
“One of our co-founders was a Mason and several of the original Rotarians were also Masons, and in the early days meetings were occasionally held in Masonic halls,” Boulding said on Sunday. “But that was more than a century ago.”
The Rotary Club has more than 32,000 branches and 1.2 million members worldwide, and is open to anyone regardless of their political or religious affiliation.
The Freemasons are a secular fraternal organization dating back to the late 16th century.
“We are two entirely separate organizations. I don’t know why people still talk about such things,” Boulding said. “We build schools and pay for hospital treatment of poor children.”
Freemasonry was introduced in Indonesia during the Dutch colonial period, but was banned by founding President Sukarno for its ties with the Dutch and remains so today.