On Intolerance, Jakarta Could Be Worse: Indonesian Council of Churches
SP/Natasia Christy Wahyuni
Jakarta is, at heart, a pluralistic city despite the occasional flare-up of hard-line Islamic sentiment, the Indonesian Council of Churches said on Wednesday.
Andreas Yewangoe, chairman of the council known as PGI, said the city’s ethnic and religious diversity, coupled with a higher level of education than residents in many other regions of the country, made Jakarta a reasonably tolerant place.
“We have to accept the reality that Jakarta is a city with high diversity, and the only problems with regard to tolerance are those that are engineered,” he said.
He blamed recent hard-line tendencies, including calls not to vote for non-Muslim candidates in the upcoming gubernatorial runoff election, on deep-seated social woes that were given a religious or ethnic spin by unscrupulous parties.
“There are a lot of problems that appear to be based on religion, but that in fact aren’t,” Andreas said.
“The roots lie elsewhere. Religion just happens to be a convenient outlet for channeling these grievances, which is why Jakartans need to be aware of these issues and address them rationally.”
He warned that unless the underlying problems were resolved, they could threaten Jakarta’s cherished pluralism.