Jakarta (ANTARA News) - A revered Islamic figure has met President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) to discuss economic gaps in the country.

Buya Syafii Maarif from Muhammadiyah, one of the biggest Islamic organizations in Indonesia, said after the meeting that "economic gap is the primary issue which must be overcome as soon as possible. The government has already worked fast, but it still needs to be made faster. Unless it is done, a social tragedy like in May 1998 may recur, and if it happens, we will be destroyed."

The former chief of Muhammadiyah admitted that the president has revoked a lot of land use permits held by conglomerates.

"Many of their land permits have been revoked. Thank God," he stated.

Maarif noted that small and medium businesses must be empowered to reduce gaps to avoid social unrest, adding that he has already discussed the matter with three big businessmen.

He declined to disclose the names of the businessmen, but said that "nothing is done to overcome the gap, which may make people angry."

Maarif hoped that big businessmen would reach out to implement his idea, which stated that each district and city must have a businessman who has populist commitment, so that a just growth may be the reference.

"The president shared my idea. It matched with what he said. It is the leftover of the Soehartos (former president) era. Hence, there are two challenges with one of them being the gap. It is like dry grass which is susceptible to fire and. It may also trigger any unrest like the one triggered using religious issue," he explained.

The second challenge discussed with Jokowi was radicalism, which was done using religion as its banner, such as ISIS.

"Indonesian Muslims think that because they speak Arabic, they are considered representing religion. This is wrong. We cannot let it happen. They have destroyed the Philippines and other places," he revealed.

Maarif remarked that Arab countries are now having difficulties dealing with them, adding that it is difficult to overcome them.

Asked if he also discussed cabinet reshuffle, Maarif revealed that he had not. "I did not ask about it. In essence, it was about commitment to reduce the gap," he concluded.(*)

Editor: Heru Purwanto
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