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» 08/27/2012
INDONESIA
Campaign against Chinese Christian candidate in Jakarta gubernatorial race
by Mathias Hariyadi
Voters in the capital will cast their ballot on 20 September for their new governor. Muslim groups have launched personal racist anti-Christian attacks. Imams and other religious leaders have called on residents to vote only for Muslims. Fears are growing about the campaign’s impact on Indonesia’s fragile social fabric.

Jakarta (AsiaNews) - Tensions are rising in Jakarta, Java, as the date (20 September) of the runoff in the capital's gubernatorial election approaches. The race is very close and everything is good, even personal attacks, against other candidates. However, there is a risk that it might become an ethnic and social confrontation. Billboards, messages and video footage are being used to denigrate candidates running against the incumbent governor, especially against a non-Muslim Chinese-Indonesian who is running for the post of deputy governor. Imams and other religious leaders have also stepped into the ring, telling their co-religionists not to trust people who are not close to Islam.

Joko Widodo (aka Jokowi) and his running mate Basuki Tjahaja Purnama (aka Ahok) are going against outgoing Jakarta Governor Fauzi "Foke" Bowo. In the first round of voting, the challengers harnessed 42.6 per cent of the vote, whilst Bowo got only 34.05 per cent. The runoff is now an open match and the incumbent is not certain of re-election.

The campaign took on an incendiary note when attacks began aimed at Basuki, an ethnic Chinese from Solo (central Java) who also happens to be Christian.

The ongoing attempts to discredit him could however heighten tensions between religious groups and ignite sectarian violence in a campaign that is increasingly taking on a national dimension.

Jakarta has a history of majority Muslims attacking minority Chinese, both Christian and Buddhist. In May 1998, when Dictator Suharto still ruled the country, thousands of people were victims of vicious and unprecedented violent attacks that have regularly flared up ever since, evidence of the fragile social fabric of the world's most populous Muslim country.

More and more voices can be heard, appealing to the population to vote for candidates that are ethnic Betawi, i.e. native Jakartans, and Muslim, like Governor Bowo, a moderate in the city's politics.

Personal attacks against Basuki have come various quarters, including a musician. Similarly, during his sermon in a mosque, a religious leader urged Muslims not to vote for the Jokowi-Ahok ticket.

In a not so subtle message, a number of videos have been posted on the Internet, showing the sectarian violence that rocked Jakarta in 1998, reminding voters that this might happen again if an ethnic Chinese is elected.

For his part, Jokowi has been attacked as an anti-Islamic, pro-Zionist activist.


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See also
10/01/2012 INDONESIA
Muslim-Christian duo to run Jakarta, Islamists lash out
by Mathias Hariyadi
09/21/2012 INDONESIA
Jakarta: election victory for challenging duo, ethnic Chinese Christian deputy governor
by Mathias Hariyadi
08/09/2007 INDONESIA
Moderate Fauzi is the new governor of Jakarta
02/19/2013 INDONESIA
After Jakarta, another Catholic politician wins in Central Java
by Mathias Hariyadi
07/20/2007 INDONESIA
Radical Muslims oppose Carmelite prayer centre
by Benteng Reges

Editor's choices
VATICAN
Pope: I am with the persecuted Christians of Mosul and the Middle East "May the God of peace inspire in all a genuine desire for dialogue and reconciliation. Violence is never defeated with violence. Violence is defeated with peace." At the Sunday Angelus Francis comments on the parable of the wheat and the weeds. God is "patient" He knows "the same weeds in the end, may become good wheat". But "at the time of the harvest, that is, of judgment, the reapers will execute the order of the master separating the weeds to be burned".
CHINA - VATICAN
Beijing, seminarians desert graduation ceremony: We will not celebrate Mass with illegitimate bishops The rector of the seminary is the illegitimate bishop Joseph Ma Yinglin: Students refuse to concelebrate with him and reject Msgr. Fang Xingyao, who has participated in several illegal episcopal ordinations. The directors close the year without awarding diplomas and send students home: rumors of some courses being "suspended" in September. The precedent of 2000, when 130 young students chose fidelity to the Pope over compromise with the government.
HONG KONG-CHINA-VATICAN
Card Zen: Religious freedom and civil liberties are united, for China and Hong Kong
by Bernardo CervelleraA wide ranging conversation with the bishop emeritus of Hong Kong: the courage of Msgr. Ma Daqin, who sent a message to Pope Francis; underground Catholics are also prepared to be arrested; suspicions about Beijing’s sincerity towards possible dialogue with the Holy See. And in Hong Kong, the march for a referendum on democracy; support for "Occupy Central"; the fear of the government and arrests. Card. Zen reaffirms that religious freedom and civil liberties go hand in hand.

Dossier
by Giulio Aleni / (a cura di) Gianni Criveller
pp. 176
by Lazzarotto Angelo S.
pp. 528
by Bernardo Cervellera
pp. 240
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