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Jakarta will not outlaw Ahmadiyah: Governor
Ina Parlina, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta
Several interfaith leaders who criticized President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s administration have rebuffed Cabinet secretary Dipo Alam’s accusation that they politicized recent incidents of religious intolerance.
Dipo accused the religious leaders of politicizing incidents of religious persecution, including recent attacks on the Ahmadiyah sect, saying their remarks had inflamed religious intolerance.
He labeled them “black crows” because they were religious leaders who had taken political stances in criticizing Yudhoyono’s leadership.
Some of the interfaith leaders had recently made separate comments about the attacks on Ahmadiyah.
Earlier in January, nine prominent interfaith leaders on several occasions voiced a statement accusing the government of lying to the public about 18 different issues. The lies included a failure to uphold justice in human rights violation cases, protect migrant workers and protect the environment.
One of their accusations was that the government had manipulated statistics on poverty. They claimed the government misled the nation by making false claims that it had achieved success in reducing poverty. The Yudhoyono administration defended its statistics, saying that they had quoted legitimate data from the National Statistics Agency.
Four leaders from the Indonesian Bishops’ Council (KWI), Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) and the Communion of Churches in Indonesia (PGI) gathered at the Maarif Institute for Culture and Humanity on Tuesday to respond to Dipo’s statement.
Prominent NU leader Salahuddin Wahid said the group consisted of interfaith leaders who merely wished to point out what was good and bad according to their religions.
“This is not political. Our capacity as religious leaders is sufficient to criticize the government that had failed to ensure religious tolerance in the country,” he told a press conference.
KWI executive secretary Benny Susetyo, a Catholic priest, said he regretted Dipo’s statement. “It’s ironic that such a public official is actually triggering a conflict,” Benny said, referring to Dipo.
Dipo reportedly said that Benny’s comments about the Ahmadiyah issues were inappropriate because he should not have commented about a religion other than his own.
Benny denied the allegation, saying he had not been solely addressing the Ahmadiyah case.
Franz Magnis-Suseno, a Catholic professor said the government must protect its citizens and all groups, including Ahmadiyah, from violence.
PGI secretary-general Gomar Gultom defended Benny, saying that they had never spoken about Ahmadiyah. “Dipo needs to correct his statement because we never discussed the Ahmadiyah incidents,” he said.
Maarif Institute executive director Fajar Riza Ul Haq said Ahmadiyah was not the entire issue. “Any violation against a minority must be addressed seriously by the government. This is our criticism of them,” Fajar said.