ASIA/INDONESIA - A coffin in procession: Islamist threats against the Christian governor

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Jakarta (Agenzia Fides) - A coffin, which advances in a protest march: with this veiled threat, Islamist militants have intensified their campaign to force the resignation of the Christian Susan Jasmine Zulkifli, appointed governor of the sub-district of Lenteng Agung, in West Java. As reported to Fides, the opposition to the woman is based solely on the faith of the governor. Several Islamist formations have staged protests in recent days and have launched a petition asking the federal government to remove her from office.
In the last demonstration with more than 600 militants, many also waved yellow flags, a symbol of death and disease. As Fides learns, Nasrullah, the coordinator of the demonstration, said: "This is a symbol of the death of the consciousness of the administration of Jakarta, that refuses to listen to our demands". According to Christians, the coffin is, however, a clear death threat to Governor Zulkifli .
The Christian woman was promoted in June by Joko Widodo, the Governor of Jakarta, who recently remarked : "I make my choices based on merits, not looking at religion". Even the vice-governor of the district of Jakarta, the most important of the entire Indonesia, is the Christian Basuki Tjahaja Purnama.
The issue has leapt to national prominence: the Federal Minister of the Interior, Gamawan Fauzi, said he "agrees with the protesters" as " the Christian official is not well accepted by the majority of the population", that is Muslim. Even for Hamdan Rasyid, leader of the Indonesian Ulema Council in Jakarta, "the presence of Zulkifli is likely to exacerbate tensions". The Christians, in response, invite to re-read the Constitution which provides for pluralism and equality of citizens, in the spirit of "Pancasila" (the five basic principles of the state). They also ask not to turn the dispute into a "sectarian strife" and not to exploit religion for political reasons, given that, in carrying out duties as a public official, the religious element should not be involved. (PA) (Agenzia Fides 08/10/2013)