Jokowi calls for tolerance over extremism

Jokowi calls for tolerance over extremism
A message of tolerance: President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo (center) attends the closing ceremony of the sixth Indonesian Muslims Congress in Yogyakarta on Wednesday along with Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) chairman Din Syamsuddin (second left), Yogyakarta Governor Sultan Hamengkubuwono X (second right) and State Secretary Pratikno (right).

President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo said on Wednesday that Indonesia practiced religious tolerance and was using cultural approaches to eradicate terrorism in the country, rather than adopting a security approach.

"We have shown that tolerance and mutual respect is strong and we always take the middle ground [...]. So there is no immense extremism and that is what other countries see [in us]," said Jokowi on the last day of the sixth Indonesian Muslims Congress (KUII) in Yogyakarta.

Jokowi said state leaders had told him that, as the country with the biggest Muslim population, Indonesia could be a role model for religious tolerance.

The President reiterated his stance, which he often shared with other world leaders, that "soft" religious and cultural approaches were better tools to eradicate terrorism compared to a security approach.

He said that the country's moderate Muslim organisations, for example, Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) and Muhammadiyah, could set an example in a country that had long struggled with radicalism and terrorism.

NU, the largest Muslim organisation in Indonesia, has spoken out against hard-line groups such as the Islamic State (IS) organisation.

Hundreds of the National Police's mobile brigade (Brimob) officers were recently deployed from its headquarters in Kelapa Dua, Jakarta, to Poso, Central Sulawesi, to hunt down an armed group whose members were said to be supporters of the IS.

Meanwhile, observers have voiced their concerns over a rise in religious intolerance and violence against Muslim minority groups and Christians.

On May 29, last year, dozens of armed people wearing robes assaulted a group of Catholics while reciting the Rosary at a house in Sleman regency, Yogyakarta.

Despite several incidents that hampered religious tolerance in the country, Jokowi said Indonesia was able to maintain harmony among its citizens with different religious and cultural backgrounds.

"There are still plenty of challenges. Like Din said, [several examples of those challenges are] those problems related to individualism, consumerism and hedonism," Jokowi added while referring to an earlier speech given by Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) chairman Din Syamsuddin.

The three-day congress closed with a treatise calling on Muslims to unite.

Din, chairman of the congress' steering committee, said national life had been distorted as indicated by the strong current of liberalism and capitalism in all sectors.

"As a result, damage to the nation occurred as shown by the emergence of pragmatic, corrupt, manipulative, individualistic and hedonic behaviours," Din said in his closing remarks.

As the majority in Indonesia, according to Din, who is also chairman of the country's second-largest Muslim organisation, Muhammadiyah, Muslims shared the responsibility of developing the country.

Chairman of the congress' organising committee, Anwar Abbas, said the treatise was aimed at developing the country and reviving the roles of Muslims in it.

"The treatise is a reminder for Muslims and Muslim organisations to unite, revive and develop the country according to Islamic and Indonesian values," Anwar said.

Among important points mentioned in the treatise was a call for Muslims to unite to empower themselves in the political, economic, social and cultural fields.

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