"Frankly speaking I was disappointed with the minister`s statement because it hurts the feeling of religious followers not only Muslims but also others as well," KH Said Aqil Siroj said.
Jakarta (ANTARA News) - Nahdlatul Ulama, one of Indonesias largest Islamic organizations, has expressed protest to home affairs ministers decision to allow a religion column in peoples identity cards to be left empty.

The general chairman of the executive board of the organization, KH Said Aqil Siroj, said here on Friday the decision of home affairs minister Tjahjo Kumolo hurt the feeling of religious followers in the country.

"Frankly speaking I was disappointed with the ministers statement because it hurts the feeling of religious followers not only Muslims but also others as well," he said.

He said religion is an important identity which must be respected.

"It is not for showing off but it it an identity which I think is very important," he said.

Said Aqil said he was considering submitting an official protest to the government in connection with the policy.

"Although it is a temporary policy it must not be taken," the head of PBNU Legal Aid and Counseling Institute, Andi Najmi Fuaidi, said.

He said the decision to allow the religion column to be left empty meant the government tolerates groups of people who do not recognize God.

He feared this condition could create social upheaval in the community.

Andi said Indonesia is a country that honors God as put in the first principle of "Pancasila" state ideology.

He said allowing people to leave the religion column empty is against Pancasila.

"All laws must refer to Pancasila and therefore no policy which is against Pancasila is acceptable," he said.

Regarding the home affairs ministers reason of taking the policy to respect those who do not follow one of the religions recognized by the government Andi said the minister still may not sacrifice Pancasila, which is the state foundation.

Home affairs minister Tjahjo Kumolo on Thursday said followers of traditional beliefs that have not been officially recognized by the government may leave the religion column in their IDs empty.

He said he would immediately discuss the issue with the minister of religious affairs but in principle the government would not interfere in the faiths of citizens so long as they are not misleading to cause disruption of public order.

Based on that followers of traditional beliefs such as "Kejawen", "Sunda Wiwitan", "Kaharingan" and "Malim" that have their IDs religion column filled with one of the recognized religions may correct it.

Law Number 24 of 2013 that amends Law Number 23 of 2006 on population administration states that religion put in the religion column in an ID must be the one recognized by the government.(*)

Editor: Heru Purwanto
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