A prominent Muslim intellectual is urging Indonesian Catholics to put prejudices aside and vote in regional elections next month for leaders who can make society a better place for all citizens, regardless of their religious or ethnic backgrounds. Millions of Indonesians will elect new leaders on Feb. 15 in more than 100 regions across the archipelago, including Jakarta. Three candidates are vying to become Jakarta governor, including Protestant incumbent Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, commonly known as "Ahok, " who is running for a second term. But his popularity has plummeted after alleged blasphemy charges for comments made by him in September which many Muslims insisted insulted the Quran.
"We have to vote for a brave leader who can make changes in this capital," Mohammad Qodari, a prominent Muslim intellectual and executive director of Indo Barometer, an independent research and survey institute, told hundreds of Catholics at a gathering at Sacred Heart Church in Central Java, on Jan. 15. At the gathering Qodari, who appeared to back Ahok for his reforms, said that Catholics are not only good citizens but also good nation-builders.
Father Guido Suprapto, executive secretary of Indonesian Bishops' Commission for the Laity, said the bishops' conference issued a pastoral letter in November last year, encouraging Catholics to participate in the election and even monitor the entire process. Catholics can change society by voting for leaders who understand religious values, take the side of poor people and who love peace and care for the environment, he said. (Source: UCAN)
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