Channel News Asia
Jakarta (Agenzia Fides) - Tension is still high in Indonesia, after the massive demonstration of radical Islamic groups that on November 4 led through the streets of Jakarta over one hundred thousand people, who demanded to arrest the Christian governor of Jakarta, Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, said "Ahok" for blasphemy. In the days following, the Indonesian bishops held their general assembly and did not ignore the delicate political moment that the country is experiencing.
Interviewed by Agenzia Fides, Ignatius Suharyo, Archbishop of Jakarta, said: "All the bishops have been following the news regarding the demonstration of Muslim groups against Ahok, hoping and praying for a small demonstration and above all a peaceful and non-violent one. All the bishops pray for the common good of the nation".
The Church stressed that it cannot enter into the merits of political or judicial decisions and does not descend directly into the political arena, but "has a clear position that upholds the rule of law and the inalienable rights of citizens". "The State has to have certain rules for demonstrations and demonstrators must follow the rules", noted Mgr. Suharyo, who wanted to suggest a sports metaphor. "Like in a football game, all players are on the pitch and play by the rules given. You cannot use the rules of volleyball, neither of boxing, in a football field", he said. "The football field is the unitary state of the Republic of Indonesia, the referee is the police, the rules are our Constitution or our laws", explained the Archbishop, reiterating that the guideline, in this situation, is "legality".
Also Fr. Benny Susetyo, today secretary of the National Council of the "Setara Intitute for Democracy and Peace", known think-tank based in Jakarta, told Fides that the demonstration "began as a peaceful demonstration, then it was politically exploited for the interests of some subjects". Many observers have admitted that the demonstration was a political maneuver, as the campaign to elect, next February, the new governor of Jakarta has just begun.
During the protest march militants shouted "We want a Muslim governor", "Burn Ahok! He is an infidel", while the two largest Indonesian Islamic organizations, Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) and Muhammadiyah have publicly urged to avoid the demonstration. The protests against the governor, accused of blasphemy, started after a passage of his speech, in which he quoted a verse from the Quran, and was uploaded on social networks from the Muslim Buni Yani, communication professor, who later admitted he cut it, altering the whole sense. (PA-PP) (Agenzia Fides 11/11/2016)