ASIA/INDONESIA - Unity in Diversity: the people of Indonesia take to the streets for the common good

Monday, 21 November 2016 religious freedom   political islam   islam   politics   religious minorities   peace   civil society  

Jakarta (Agenzia Fides) - Reaffirming Indonesia's motto, "unity in diversity" and the solid foundation of the nation, ie the Pancasila (the "Charter of five principles"): with this spirit the Indonesians of all faiths took to the streets in recent days in Jakarta and Semarang, the two major cities of the Indonesian island of Java. Wearing the traditional white and red dresses, the national colors of Indonesia, thousands of people marched on November 19 on the streets of the capital. The event was motivated by the recent episode of a bomb detonated in front of a church in Samarinda (in Indonesian Borneo) and also an attempt to polarize the nation following the story of the governor of Jakarta, the Christian Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, called "Ahok ", accused of blasphemy.
As Fides learns, the procession was animated by interfaith prayers, music and traditional art performances, while all of them praised the "Bhinneka Tunggal Ika", Indonesia's official motto, which in Javanese language means "unity in diversity". The procession was attended by priests, religious and faithful who Archbishop Ignatius Suharyo of Jakarta invited to participate to "support the Pancasila and pray for their country".
The key moment was the silence in which all the protesters, of various religions, prayed personally, advocating tolerance and peace on the nation. After the prayer, the organizing committee composed of various organizations of civil society, read a joint statement, followed by the release of five doves as a symbol of peace. "Some groups and movements openly intend to replace the Pancasila, and aim to destroy the country", reads the text, reiterating "the fight against violence in the name of religion".
Fr. Simon Petrus Lili Tjahjadi, Rector of the Faculty of Philosophy at the Driyarkara University in Jakarta explained to Fides that "the concern for the common good of Indonesia is also ours. This is proof of our commitment to protect the deep identity of Indonesia, which is pluralist".
Hundreds of thousands of people, led by radical Muslim groups had organized a demonstration on 4 November last year asking the government to impeach the governor of Jakarta for alleged blasphemy. On November 16, the police officially investigated Ahok for blasphemy, announcing that he will be indicted. Radical Muslim groups called for a new mass demonstration to demand the police to arrest the governor.
The instigated intolerance in society prompted Indonesian citizens to take to the streets even on the occasion of International Day for Tolerance on 18 November: a peaceful march which praised pluralism and respect for diversity was held in Semarang, capital of the province of Central Java. As Fides learns, the procession launched an appeal to reject all forms of intolerance and discrimination based on religion, ethnicity, race, color, sex, political views. Secondly, the text calls on the State to play an active role in order to stop violent and intolerant groups, also acting on social media, to maintain harmony in the Indonesian nation.
The head of the commission for Ecumenism in the diocese of Semarang, Fr. Aloysius Budi Purnomo, told Fides: "We Indonesian Christians have the task of disseminating new awareness to build the civilization of love, in order to create a prosperous, dignified and harmonious society, for every citizen regardless of his religion. Students and young people are important elements to become an active force against violence and intolerance. Young people and students are tasked to build and strengthen harmony, peace and brotherhood in this country. Without ever giving up". (PA-PP) (Agenzia Fides 21/11/2016)