Jakarta. While Indonesians celebrated National Youth Pledge Day on Friday (28/10), prominent Muslim scholars and an association that represents students in Islamic schools, or santri, called on the public to avoid the issues of race, ethnicity, religion and intergroup dynamics during the period leading up to the Jakarta gubernatorial election.
Friday also marked the first day of campaigning, which will continue until Feb. 11 next year before voters go to the ballot box on Feb. 15.
Muhammad Utomo, chairman of the National Santri Movement, said a spirit of anti-racism is important for Indonesia to maintain its unity.
“Our santri friends were called. We are Indonesians, we uphold the motto of Bhineka Tunggal Ika –even though we are different, we are one,” he said on the sidelines of an anti-racism declaration in Jakarta.
National Youth Pledge Day is celebrated to commemorate the proclamation on Oct. 28, 1928 by young nationalists of three ideals: one motherland, one nation and one language, which is considered as the day Indonesians united against colonial rule.
“This is the momentum of the students to care about the nation for the integrity of the republic,” Utomo said during a student dialogue themed “Cinta Indonesia” (Love Indonesia) and a declaration on the anti-racism campaign in South Jakarta.
He also called on all parties to respect the country’s democracy.
“Let us call people together for Jakarta’s gubernatorial election. If you want action, please, but let’s use heart with positive energy, kind thoughts. If there is a problem let the state finish,” he said.
Ismail Hasani, research director at the Setara Institute, an Indonesia-based nongovernmental organization that conducts research and advocacy on democracy, human rights and political freedom, reminded those in attendance that 88 years ago, the young Indonesian nationalists declared an oath that this nation is united despite its diversity.
“If today we struggle against political uniformity, we actually slip back more than 88 years,” he said.
He added that public spaces should not be “littered” by provocation, or racist campaigns that are not only criminal, but also reflect poorly on democracy.
Friday was a quiet day in the election campaign, but incumbent Governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama had been in trouble before for comments that were considered by some as insulting to Islam. Opponents of Ahok have also attacked him on his religion and ethnic background, claiming that it disqualifies him from leading the capital city.
Source : 365news