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  • » 11/19/2014, 00.00

    INDONESIA

    As Ahok, a Christian and ethnic Chinese, becomes the first non-Muslim to lead Jakarta, Islamists rage

    Mathias Hariyadi

    In a break with tradition, Tjahaja Basuki Purnama was sworn in today by President Jokowi, his predecessor as Jakarta governor, at the Presidential Palace, and not by the Home Affairs Ministry. Extremist groups call for the ouster of the new governor. Thousands of police have been deployed to enforce security.

    Jakarta (AsiaNews) - Basuki Tjahaja 'Ahok' Purnama today became officially the new governor of Jakarta. This follows months of political deadlock and open hostility by extremist movements, led by the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI), opposed to him because he is a Christian and an ethnic Chinese.

    During the official ceremony, the new governor presented his letters of credentials and took the oath of office before the president, who is also the outgoing governor of the Indonesian capital, President Joko 'Jokowi' Widodo.

    The ceremony took place at the Presidential Palace, in central Jakarta, breaking with tradition whereby governors are sworn in by the Home Affairs minister.

    Thousands of police and soldiers were out in the streets patrolling sensitive areas to prevent attacks or end isolated incidents of violence.

    Popularly known as Ahok, Jakarta's new governor has his work cut out: first, because he is an ethnic Chinese and a Christian, and second, because he has shown strong character and integrity in the exercise of his functions, without a whiff of corruption or cronyism.

    He has shown such firmness in recent weeks, when he served as interim governor following Jokowi's resignation. Like the new president, whose deputy he was when the former was himself the governor of Jakarta, Ahok employs a language and approach that is even more inflexible and uncompromising than his predecessor.

    Many of his public statements have been met with dissatisfaction and anger, especially from extremist Islamic fundamentalist movements.

    The latter include the Islamic Defence Front, which the new governor would like to ban for causing violent incidents and for its extremist views on minority rights and religious freedom.

    In the last few hours, hundreds of extremists have been demonstrating, calling for Ahok's ouster. 

    The rise of the new governor is a milestone in the history of modern Indonesia, because for the first time a non-Muslim and an ethnic Chinese will occupy the capital's highest office. Many citizens and civil society groups expect important and quick changes.

    However, the domestic opposition does not appear willing to give up. In fact, until a few hours before the swearing in ceremony, attempts were underway behind the scene to prevent the inauguration of the new administration.

    The protection of minorities and religious freedom are among the priorities of President Jokowi's new administration, a priority to pursue by all legal means.

    However, this is not going to be an easy goal in the world's most populous Muslim country, where a large segment of society - and political class - adheres to an extremist view of Islam and shows hostility towards ethnic and religious minorities.

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    See also

    01/10/2012 INDONESIA
    Muslim-Christian duo to run Jakarta, Islamists lash out
    Jokowi and his deputy Ahok will begin running the capital on 7 October. For analysts and experts, their election marks an historic turning point. However, Muslim extremists bemoan their victory, calling it a bad and dark day for the nation. Islamists expect "immorality" will become widespread among residents.

    13/03/2017 15:03:00 INDONESIA
    Muslim supporters of Christian governor denied funeral

    Banners and notices have been displayed in several Jakarta mosques. Police are investigating the matter. Concerned, Religious Affairs minister calls refusals “unislamic”." The election campaign was marked by acts of intolerance by Islamists against Ahok and his supporters. Tensions are building ahead of the second round of voting in April. Moderate Muslims react.



    20/07/2015 INDONESIA – ISLAM
    Jakarta governor defends the right of Ahmadis to freedom of worship
    A Christian of Sino-Indonesian heritage, Ahok slammed recent attacks against the minority in the capital. On 10 July, Islamic extremist groups disrupted a prayer service in a place of worship they were able to shut down. For the governor, the principle of religious freedom applies to everyone. Indonesia "was not born under the tyranny" of the majority, "but based on the Constitution”.

    27/03/2017 09:14:00 INDONESIA
    Jakarta: incitement to hatred, the most common online crime in 2016

    The authorities conducted 199 investigations. The victims targeted for ethnic and religious reasons. Religious and conservative groups increasingly active as vigilantes. The case of the Christian governor is an example of this trend. 



    18/04/2017 13:34:00 INDONESIA
    Religious leaders make an appeal in favour of democracy in Jakarta’s gubernatorial election

    Seven religious organisations take part in a joint press conference to encourage voters to exercise their rights and respect the outcome of tomorrow's election. During the election campaign, religion was used and manipulated by Islamic extremist groups.





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    ISLAM – VATICAN – EGYPT
    A Muslim writes to the pope: Dear Pope Francis . . .

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    He admires the charity shown by the pontiff towards Syrian Muslim refugees, and his push in favour of love and against hatred. Islamic scholars are not like this, he says, they do not denounce Daesh’s hatred and do nothing for Christians. He calls on the pontiff to press President to Sisi and Al Azhar to reform Islam. Without this Al Azhar risks being the academy of world fundamentalism. Here is the letter from our friend and collaborator Kamel Abderrahmani.


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