Indonesia Urges Religious Tolerance Ahead of Elections

ICC Note: Ahead of regional elections this June and next year’s presidential election, Indonesian President Joko Widodo urges the nation to maintain religious tolerance and not to let their political views get in the way. Radical Islam has been on the rise in Indonesia, with religion being increasingly politicized.

03/13/2018 Indonesia (UCA News) – Indonesian President Joko Widodo has stressed the importance of maintaining religious tolerance as the political situation heats up ahead of regional elections this summer and next year’s presidential election.

The General Elections Commission (KPU) said the regional electoral campaigns will conclude on June 23 with votes to be cast on June 27 for 17 provinces, 115 districts and 39 municipalities. It also set a series of guidelines to curb sectarianism. The campaigns officially began on Feb. 15.

The presidential election will take place in May 2019.

“Regional and presidential elections are only a once-in-five-year democratic party. Go to the polls, then unite again,” Widodo told about 3,000 farmers who gathered in Cirebon, West Java, on March 11.

He urged people not to let their political views get in the way of religious tolerance.

“I appeal to you not to let your different choices serve as a basis for intolerance,” he said. “We can’t build friendships with our neighbors and other villages if we are intolerant [of the choices] they make.”

He said this was especially the case in Indonesia given the vast size of the country and its numerous religions, ethnicities and races.

Hard-line groups exploited religious sentiment to bolster their campaigns during last year’s elections in Jakarta, which saw the Chinese Christian governor of the capital lose a bitter, religiously-tinged race. .


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