Tolerant Indonesian Muslims Encouraged To Speak Up, Defend Harmony

Members of the Nadlatul Ulama (NU) organisation perform Indonesia's traditional martial art "pencak silat" during a ceremony to mark the 85th anniversary of the Nahdlatul Ulama in Jakarta on July 17, 2011. The Nahdlatul Ulama is the largest Muslim organization in Indonesia and one of the largest independent Islamic organizations in the world with more than 50 million members. AFP PHOTO / ADEK BERRY (Photo credit should read ADEK BERRY/AFP/Getty Images)

By Times Headline Writer

Interfaith activist Mohammad Guntur Romli has called on tolerant Muslims in Indonesia to speak up and counter religion-driven sentiments against Jakarta Governor Basuki Tjahaja “Ahok” Purnama.

Guntur said anti-Ahok sentiments, which peaked at the Nov.4 rally by Islamic organizations against the governor’s alleged blasphemous speech, were only political maneuvers amid the Jakarta gubernatorial election campaign but these would destroy diversity in the country if ignored.

“Several groups out there aim to change our Constitution, which upholds our religious harmony, into a Khilafah Islamiyah [Islamic caliphate],” the activist told The Jakarta Post on Monday.

“Tolerant Muslims as the majority must no longer keep silent. Our Constitution has opened the opportunity for anyone to compete in elections regardless of their religious and racial backgrounds,” he said.

Protests against Ahok developed after part of his speech, in which he cited a verse from the Quran, was uploaded by Buni Yani, a communications lecturer, who later admitted that he had made errors in transcribing the video he uploaded on his Facebook page.

The video went viral and sparked public outrage, which eventually led to Nov. 4’s mass rally by several Islamic organizations, which called on the police to conduct a transparent legal process against Ahok over his alleged blasphemy.


With inputs from news agencies