2018 elections vulnerable to religious, sectarian politics: Syamsuddin

"Sectarian politics would make it difficult for true harmony to be implemented," Syamsuddin stated.
Jakarta (ANTARA News) - Simultaneous regional head elections in 2018 are politically vulnerable to religious sectarianism and religious disharmony, the Presidents Special Envoy for Dialogue and Interfaith Co-operation and Civilization, Din Syamsuddin, noted.

"Sectarian politics would make it difficult for true harmony to be implemented," Syamsuddin stated, after having an audience with the Chairman of the Indonesian Bishops Conference (KWI), Ignatius Suharyo, in Jakarta on Tuesday.

According to him, there is always a potential for interfaith disharmony in the political field. Politics constitute a non-religious factor, apart from economic factors and social inequality, which often triggers disruption of religious harmony in the community.

Based on this issue, he invited religious leaders to strengthen Indonesias collective awareness as a big and united nation despite having different backgrounds.

"I think, and maybe all of us think, that our harmony can be further disturbed in the year of politics. Therefore, we (leaders of different religions) have to educate our people on collective consciousness, stressing the fact that despite the differences in religion and ethnicity, many similarities exist between us," he revealed.

He asked the public to continue promoting equality among fellow nations, rather than sharpening differences, while entering the general election phase.

"Therefore, we have to develop the equations, while staying away from our differences," the former Chairman of the Muhammadiyah Islamic organization remarked.

According to him, differences in society, especially from religious aspects, should support democratization in the community. However, such democratization could be realized if the election process, as a venue for democratic parties, is carried out objectively and fairly.

President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) has named Professor Dr KH Muhammad Sirajuddin Syamsudfin MA, who is better known as Din Syamsuddin, as his special envoy for interfaith dialog and cooperation and civilization.

"I have assigned him to develop interfaith dialog and cooperation well at home and abroad," the president said at a press conference at Merdeka state palace in Jakarta on Monday (Oct 23).

Jokowi expressed hope that Syamsuddin could promote inter-faith harmony in Indonesia by "developing interfaith dialog and cooperation between civilizations and promoting Indonesian Pancasila-based culture and civilization."

Pancasila refers to the five principles covering belief in the One and Only God, a just and civilized humanity, a unified Indonesia, democracy led by the wisdom of the representatives of the people, and social justice for all Indonesians.

Syamsuddin remarked that he accepted the appointment "in the name of God" as a form of his service to the nation and the state.

"The Indonesian government is often called and even demanded to be involved in overcoming the uncertainties, tensions, and even inter-religious and inter-civilization conflicts in the current society," he explained.(*)

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