Prominent Muslim Figure Calls for End of Politicized Religion


MARCH 14, 2017

Jakarta. Political groups should not exploit religious sentiment to garner votes in the upcoming second round of the Jakarta gubernatorial election, Agus Muhammad, director of research institute Moderate Muslim Society, said on Monday (13/03).

Agus was commenting on recent reports that members of the Jakarta Public Order Agency and volunteers removed nearly 200 discriminatory banners from Jakarta's streets, including one that read, "Muslims who vote for an infidel leader or blasphemer do not deserve a funeral prayer at mosque."

"This is no longer a 'different' interpretation of the holy scripture. These so-called religious sentiments are affecting relationships between our fellow citizens," Agus said in Jakarta.

He said the politicization of religious sentiment will have a demoralizing effect on Indonesian society, causing disunity and general hostility between groups.

"I urge for an immediate halt on politicizing funeral prayers because relations between our residents will soon turn sour. In tense situations, anything can happen. It might only take a small trigger to create large conflicts," Agus added.

If left unchecked, the current political climate will destroy the values that have served as a foundation for Indonesia's rich social diversity, Agus said.

"It will take a long time to repair broken social connections," he said.

The Jakarta gubernatorial election has been wrought with religious and ethnic tensions, culminating in the prosecution of incumbent Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama for blasphemy.

Ahok has been forced to defend himself against hardline Muslim groups since late last year after a video of a speech, in which he spoke out against the misuse of the Koran's Al-Maidah 51 verse for political gain, went viral on social media.