Saturday, December 18, 2010

Deputy Governor Calls on Indonesian Council of Ulema to Help End Religious Strife

Jakarta Globe, Indonesia
Deputy Governor Calls on Indonesian Council of Ulema to Help End Religious Strife
Dofa Fasila | December 18, 2010

Jakarta. Jakarta Deputy Governor Prijanto said the time had come for the country’s highest authority on Islamic affairs to play a bigger role in leading Jakarta’s communities and ending simmering religious tensions.

Prijanto said the Indonesian Council of Ulema’s (MUI) leadership was needed to stop Jakartans from being provoked or incited to resorting to religious violence and vigilantism.

“I request the MUI boost their role among Jakarta communities and function to strengthen ukhuwah Islamiyah [Islamic brotherhood] and akhlakul karimah [good behavior]. These two traits are primary in leading lives in the midst of pluralism,” he said at an MUI meeting on Friday.

“I ask [the MUI] to please create programs for our people so that they will avoid anarchic behavior. It is our wish that the people should bring themselves closer to the teachings of Islam and apply them in their lives on a daily basis.”

In 2005, the MUI issued a fatwa, or edict, calling the teachings of the Ahmadiyah, an Islamic minority sect, blasphemous.

Since then a string of violent acts and discrimination against members of the group have gone largely unpunished. Members of the MUI were also among those, including the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI), who conducted a raid against a transsexual beauty pageant this month in Makassar.

Jakarta’s MUI chief, Munzir Tamam, stressed during Friday’s meeting that his group would not accept teachings that could cause Muslims to stray from their faith.

“However even as [deviations from true Islamic teachings] cannot be tolerated, anarchic actions are not the way to resolve problems. We should get those who stray to understand the teachings of Islam better.”

The statements come less than a month after a noted human rights organization said Greater Jakarta was becoming increasingly intolerant and fundamentalist, according to a survey of 1,200 residents.

“Based on the survey that we conducted, we can say many people are intolerant and one step away from becoming fundamentalists,” Ismail Hasani, a researcher at the Setara Institute for Democracy and Peace, said late last month.

Ismail said intolerance was rampant when it concerned family members converting to other religions or having houses of worship of other faiths in the neighborhood.

Levels of discrimination were also high against religions other than the six recognized by the Indonesian state (Islam, Catholicism, Protestantism, Hinduism, Buddhism and Confucianism).

The survey also showed that 45.4 percent of respondents wanted the government to disband the Ahmadiyah while 20.7 percent said the Islamic sect’s activities should be restricted.

Copyright 2010 The Jakarta Globe
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