ASIA/INDONESIA - Prayer for peace all over the country on the eve of the protest of extremist groups

Thursday, 1 December 2016 peace   justice     violence   prayer   human rights   blasphemy   religious minorities   islam   political islam  

Jakarta (Agenzia Fides) – To reaffirm peacefully the principles of tolerance, love, unity in diversity, acceptance of others, legality, peace: with this spirit, wearing red and white bands (Indonesia's national colors), thousands of citizens around the country, faithful of all religious communities, symbolically shared a large "prayer for unity", yesterday, November 30, 2016, and took to the streets to launch a message of peace. The initiative comes two days before the new demonstration, organized by radical Islamic groups, who are asking the government and the judiciary to arrest the Christian governor of Jakarta, Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, said "Ahok", accused of alleged blasphemy.
Activists, religious leaders, artists, musicians, civil servants, students, military leaders and representatives of the Christian community (priests, religious and laity) have joined the demonstration. As Fides learns, many religious leaders of the Catholic Church participated.
"We wear red and white bands and pray for peace in Indonesia", said General Gatot Nurmantyo, one of the organizers of the demonstration, during a procession that passed through the center of Jakarta, precisely in the same places that tomorrow, December 2, will see radical groups. During the demonstration prayers, songs, dances, speeches were held, all centered on the theme of "unity in diversity" and the urgency of building peace in the country.
Mgr. Agustinus Tri Budi Utomo, vicar general of the diocese of Surabaya, capital of East Java province, told Fides that "the Catholic Church is concerned for the unity of the nation, and confirms its support to the Constitution and the principles of democracy" . In Surabaya, where about 10 thousand people took to the streets, there were many Christians in the procession. "We must be strong and free of fear, in the face of truth and justice", notes the Vicar.
Recognizing the presence of numerous Catholics, Fr. Budi Utomo explained that the experiment of this demonstration, spread widely throughout the national territory, "is interesting to test the consolidation of democracy in Indonesia and the awareness of these values in the life of the Indonesian people. People have confirmed their support to the military and police, to protect the country".
In Bandung, capital of West Java province, there were 15 thousand people in the street. The demonstration ended with a prayer led by six religious leaders, representing Confucianism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Protestantism, Catholicism and Islam. They all prayed for the unity of the nation. Speaking to Fides, the vicar general of the Diocese of Bandung, Fr. Yustinus Hilman Pudjiatmoko, recalled the words of a song heard during the procession which called for "building the soul and the body of the great Indonesia" (PA-PP) (Agenzia Fides 01/12/2016)


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