Indonesians march for religious tolerance

Tens of thousands embody the Indonesian spirit of Bhinneka Tunggal Ika ("Unity in Diversity") as they march for interfaith and communal harmony.

By Maeswara Palupi for Khabar Southeast Asia in Jakarta

January 15, 2014
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About 130,000 people marched in Central Jakarta on January 5th in the name of inter-faith peace, organisers said.

  • Representatives of various religions and groups march in Central Jakarta on January 5th, Indonesia's inaugural Religious Harmony Day. [Maeswara Palupi/Khabar]

    Representatives of various religions and groups march in Central Jakarta on January 5th, Indonesia's inaugural Religious Harmony Day. [Maeswara Palupi/Khabar]

The throng, who represented Indonesia's rainbow of religions and communal groups, walked from the National Monument (Monas) to the Hotel Indonesia Roundabout and back.

The march coincided with the first national Religious Harmony Day, organised by the Religious Affairs Ministry.

Similar marches were to take place in 17 other provinces, the Jakarta Post reported, with Muslim, Christian, Buddhist, Hindu and Confucian groups all expected in the Jakarta procession, it said.

Vice President Boediono and Religious Affairs Minister Suryadharma Ali opened the event.

"For this inaugural Religious Harmony Day, we want to show to the world that Indonesia still appreciates unity as our country's foundation," Suryadharma told the crowd before the march kicked off.

"We are all Indonesians," he said, telling them to take the message home.

Out of many, one

Kamaruddin Amin, organising committee head, rated the day a success.

"We received many positive messages about the event. Indeed, the event has brought people together regardless of their religion. Not only that, various religious organisations also participated in this long march," Kamaruddin told Khabar Southeast Asia afterward.

"This is a real example of Bhinneka Tunggal Ika ("Unity in Diversity"), our official national motto," he added.

Clerics from different faiths praised the show of inter-faith and inter-communal solidarity.

"I can tell that with this event, the Indonesian government is serious about promoting religious harmony," Catholic priest Edy Purwanto told Khabar. "The long march breaks the myth that [the state of] religious intolerance in Indonesia can't be fixed."

Buddhist leader Suhadi Sanjaya pointed out thousands of people from outside Java converged on Jakarta for the march.

"We need to deliver this message at the local level and to continue to maintain harmony," Suhadi told Khabar.

For his part, Indonesian Conference on Religion and Peace (ICRP) Executive Director Mohammad Monib, said Indonesians must continue to promote the idea behind Religious Harmony Day.

"Despite all of success of the inaugural tolerance day, we still have a lot of homework in improving our tolerance," Monib told Khabar on January 6th.

Reader Comments
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    • asamson
      January 17, 2014 @ 08:01:43AM
    • Pardon me, but do not misunderstand and deviate the meaning of tolerance. Religion must be strengthened first and then we can think about being tolerant, do not put on an air of tolerance to look good when you are actually hypocrites. Remember the tolerance during the age of Majapahit when there was one religion in power, Hindu/Buddha, which was perfected in the sultanate era (which shared the Majapahit bloodline) led by Islam (example: Islamic centers like Kudus and the Sunan Kudus tower). Surabaya, around Sunan Ampel, to this day is inhabited by many Christians/Chinese. Do not use the tolerance excuse to marginalize the historical and cultural majority groups and coddle minorities to garner praise from other nations or to further the agendas of those with money. You are not bothered and are protected so be thankful and do not ask for more; to do so is to forget your place. Tolerance must follow history, with a leader: Islam. Do not bluster on about an absolute Republic of Indonesia but then sacrifice or stomp out the spirit of Islam or the majority, act in accordance with history and culture. Do not deaden your heart. Remember.
    • Macan Merahputih
      January 15, 2014 @ 04:01:20AM
    • A movement for togetherness between tribes, religions and ethnic groups must be implemented on a wide scale to create peace in the Republic of Indonesia.

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