2016-10-24 16:32:00

Religious leaders call for harmony before Indonesian polls

Indonesia’s Catholic bishops along with their counterparts from other religions have raised concerns about the political use of religious and ethnic sentiments ahead of regional elections scheduled for Feb. 15 next year.  The bishops' conference has reminded Catholics of their responsibility to help prevent violence during the upcoming election season.  "We need to think about how Catholics in their own regions can contribute in a concrete way to peaceful and harmonious elections," Father Yohanes Rasul Edy Purwanto, executive secretary of the bishops' conference, told UCANEWS.  "We hope that sporadic violence will not emerge. It is easy for violence to become widespread, particularly when it has religious and racial connotations,"  he said after participating in a meeting of religious leaders on Oct. 17 in Jakarta, coordinated by the Inter-Religious Council (IRC).  Father Purwanto said the bishops' conference would issue a pastoral letter on the elections following its synod in November. "Each diocese can go ahead and issue a similar letter. As a national entity, however, the bishops' conference cannot stay silent," he said.

After their meeting in Jakarta, the religious leaders issued a six-point message urging all parties to refrain from words and action that foment divisions within a plural society.  IRC president Din Syamsuddin urged candidates and their campaign teams to be sensitive to people's religious beliefs. Suhadi Sendjaja, chair of the Indonesian Buddhist Council said that in the absence of a proper candidate from one’s own religion or race, it will not be wrong to vote for any other candidate deemed appropriate.  Religious Affairs Minister Lukman Hakim Saifuddin had earlier met Father Purwanto and other religious leaders on Oct. 14, in which he explained that democracy and integrity to face diversity in politics in a polite way were key to preserving harmony in the nation.  

Political use of religious and racial sentiments has increased in Indonesia since Muslim hard-liners accused Jakarta's Governor, Basuki Tjahaja Purnama of religious defamation earlier this month. On Oct. 14, more than 10, 000 Muslims rallied to demand Purnama's death.  According to the Election Monitoring Body, there is potential for conflict in Aceh, Banten and Papua provinces.  (Source: UCAN)

All the contents on this site are copyrighted ©.