06/09/2017, 09.48
INDONESIA
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Widodo establishes a commission to promote Pancasila against extremism

by Mathias Hariyadi

The organ is tasked with fighting growing extremist ideologies. The Ukp-Pip is an expression of a strong "neo-nationalist" wave; The government's response to the Islamist push for radical movements. The Catholic Church has no representation. The appointment of Ma'ruf Amin, chief witness in the Ahok trial, contested.

Jakarta (AsiaNews) - Indonesian President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo has appointed members to the Ukp-Pip, a new presidential working unit whose goal is to promote the implementation of Pancasila [the doctrine of Indonesian pluralism ndr].

The 10 major personalities, including some interreligious leaders, were sworn in on June 7 in the presidential palace, in the presence of the highest state offices. Yudi Latif, the Pancasila's famous writer and scholar, will lead the work unit to combat the growing extremist ideologies in the country.

Analysts see Ukp-Pip as an expression of a strong "neo-nationalist" wave, born among the most moderate components of Indonesian society. It is the answer to the Islamist push for radical movements, which in recent months have caused profound political, social and religious divisions. The goal of these groups is to replace Pancasila with laws inspired by sharia and the establishment of an Indonesian Islamic State. The Widodo administration has recently launched a political campaign against extremists, to which the Ukp-Pip is set to give new impetus.

In addition to Yudi Latif, Megawati Soekarnoputri, a former Indonesian president and leader of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), is also part of the Commission and will serve as Chief Adviser; Try Sutrisno, former vice president of the republic; Syafi'i Ma'arif, Muslim intellectual, pluralistic activist and former Muhammadiyah president; Mahfud M.D, Former President of the Constitutional Court; Ma'ruf Amin, President of the Indonesian Ulema Council (Mui); Andreas Anangguru Yewangoe, President of the Communion of Churches in Indonesia (PGI); Wisnu Bawa Tenaya, Head of Indonesia Hindu Religious Councils (Phdi); Sudhamek, president of the Buddhayana Indonesia Assembly (Mbi).

The Catholic Church has no representation on the presidential working unit, albeit always being very active in promoting dialogue and coexistence in a country composed of different ethnicities and religions. Critics also contested the nomination of Ma'ruf Amin. He had in fact participated, as a witness in the blasphemy trial against Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama. The trial ended with the controversial two-year jail sentence of the former Christian governor of Jakarta. The ruling has provoked strong controversy and hundreds of thousands of Indonesians have taken part in a wave of peaceful protests to show solidarity with Ahok. It is precisely in these events that analysts have seen the response of moderate civil society to Islamic fundamentalism and the birth of a new "Indonesian nationalism".

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