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Monday, 12 February 2018 12:48

The Role of Religious Leaders in Strengthening Harmony

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In his speech before the participants of the extraordinary meeting of religious leaders at the Presidential Palace, in Bogor, West Java on Saturday (10/2/2018), President Joko Widodo expressed his gratitude to the religious leaders and community leaders. They are considered to have strengthened the harmony of the nation, and are committed to strengthening the Unitary State of the Republic of Indonesia -NKRI, the state principle of Pancasila, and Bhinneka Tunggal Ika (Unity in diversity). Indonesia is a pluralistic country that has people with different ethnic and religious backgrounds. But the pluralism does not make Indonesia split. Indeed, the pluralism itself unites the Indonesian nation. Religious issue and diversity often pose tension in the social life of the community. The presence of a group of fanatics towards a particular religion may result in tension, conflict, violence, and even murder in the name of religion. In addition, ethnic, religious, racial and interreligious issues (SARA) sometimes so quickly spread to various layers of society. As a result, this may create an atmosphere of conflict that is quite dangerous in the life of the nation. The escalation of disputes in the matter of SARA issues often poses violent and distressing conflicts. Indonesia used to undergo conflict in the name of religion. Since the reform era exactly in 1998, Indonesian people have experienced the era of freedom of expression and expression of opinion. At the time, there had been several conflicts in the name of religion. Let’s take for example, the conflict that occurred in Poso, Central Sulawesi in 1998-2000; conflict Ambon, Maluku in 1999; and in South Lampung 2015. Religious conflicts that have occurred in a small part of Indonesia became a historical note for Indonesia. This proves that Indonesia is still very vulnerable to conflicts due to different beliefs. In this regard, the religious leaders must play a major role to reduce the possible conflicts in a bid to strengthen the national unity. In addressing the conflicts with motives of ethnic, religious, racial and interreligious issues (SARA), the religious leaders must play their key role, especially in 2018 on which Indonesia will hold a Regional Head Election (Pilkada) simultaneously, and in 2019, the presidential election will take place. Both of these events are particularly vulnerable to conflicts, especially if some individuals and groups relate to SARA issues. Basically, any conflict may occur not because of different views of beliefs. However, it is caused with the actions of individuals or groups that incite the anger of one other group. Of course, this should be coped with, especially by religious leaders. Because if this is not immediately addressed, the impact not only harms those who are in conflict, but also can threaten the integrity of the Unitary State of the Republic of Indonesia (NKRI).

Read 1364 times Last modified on Monday, 12 February 2018 19:23