SBY Pledges to Protect Pluralism at Christmas Celebration

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and First Lady Ani Yudhoyono leaving a venue after the National Christmas celebration in Jakarta, on Dec. 27, 2013. (AFP Photo/Adek Berry)

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and First Lady Ani Yudhoyono leaving the national Christmas celebration in Jakarta on Dec. 27, 2013. (AFP Photo/Adek Berry)

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono on Friday urged the public not to let religious extremism flourish in Indonesia.

“Morally and socially, every leader in the country must prevent and reject extreme and radical behavior,” he said, during the annual official Christmas celebration at the Jakarta Convention Center. “Do not depend on state actions to overcome each obstacle against tolerance and the peacefulness of life in society.”

He added that each part of society must prevent individuals, groups and movement from spreading radicalism.

The celebration was attended by Vice President Boediono, chairman of the Indonesian Bishops’ Conference (KWI) Ignatius Suharyo, interfaith activist Franz Magnis Suseno, cabinet ministers and around 4,000 Christians.

“Our nation must strengthen awareness and goodwill to build harmonious and peaceful living conditions,” Yudhoyono said. “We must develop all this in toddlers and continue it until school-age. Parents, teachers and religious leaders have a duty and a big responsibility. Religious leaders ought to sow the seeds of good deeds and grow them among their own people.”

Yudhoyono’s comments came in the wake of reports of religious intolerance in the archipelago, including the continued closure of the embattled GKI Yasmin congregation’s church in Bogor, which remains shuttered by the municipal government in defiance of two rulings by the Supreme Court.

“Let’s use our hearts and minds, not our emotion and violence,” Yudhoyono said. “Principally, the state will intervene if there is no other way and prevention fails to work. Law enforcement is the last option if persuasive approaches cannot succeed.”

The event was held after the actual holiday so that more guests would be able to attend.

“Since nine years ago, prior to and during Christmas celebrations across Indonesia, I have personally looked on hour by hour to ensure that Christmas security and services are going well so that such an important celebration proceed safely,” he said.

  • I Made

    hollow sounding words, actions speak a lot louder sir

  • jericho40

    To have freedom of religion in Indonesia a month long Holiday for Christians should be honored. Christians get 1 Holiday, Muslims get a month and more.

  • Botak

    Only “Omong Kosong” out of SBY mouth. actually he helped HIS BROTHERS the FPI (he called them Brothers) with his week leadership to grow and create all this chaos.

    If he would really meant what he said, he would have opened the GKI Yasmin congregation’s Church in Bogor as proof.

    “Sorry Mr. President, but I don’t believe you anymore and can’t trust you.”

    Maybe they should change the constitution and allow a non Muslim to become President! – In this case I would go for Ahok. I’m as a Muslim can trust him more than SBY.

  • zerodiversity

    Pak SBY Less Talk Less Empty Promises and More Action please. The easiest thing you can do is to fire Suryadharma Ali who has been incompetent as well as supporting religious extremism.

  • sheldon

    Too little, much too late.

  • Rie olsen bali

    What is this…. Why politik in a christmas party. We never talk politik in the church…. Islam talk only politik in the mushulla.

    Shame on SBY

    • blakep

      A few years ago whilst attending a relative-in-laws funeral in Minahasa I was horrified to have the Catholic religious ceremony stopped mid-stride so the local Golkar honcho could spend 10 minutes on some long winded speech about how much (nothing?) him and his party have done for the district – all the time the poor dearly departed somberly lay in front of him as a battalion of flies made their way between the corpse and waiting exposed food buffet. The whole thing seemed a little (okay, a lot.) insensitive.

  • Chris Sirias

    Dog and pony show.

  • Angry Magpie

    SBY where is your state intervention on GKI Yasmin case?

  • Muffinman

    Here here, TGIF. It’s all good and well to encourage tolerance and pluralism at the ‘toddler’s level’ but the government itself has a responsibility to act on unsolved issues where hate and racism are still currently and visibly the forces at work.

    • TGIF

      How would YOU resolve an issue at the ‘toddler’s level’ in this country?
      The government keeps reminding themselves that they have a responsibility to smooth out differences. In my opinion as long as Foreign Islamic influences are gaining a momentum in Indonesia, the light at the end of the tunnel is pretty dim. Where would you think intolerance and hate come from? Until then, the issue of protecting pluralism will be repeated in the news at the end of 2014.

      • Muffinman

        I guess to ‘resolve issues’ such as these , you have to work from both ends ; education from an early age and enforcing the law for those who didn’t get the education in the first place.
        How do you ‘solve’ apartheid ? You can enforce a law for a specific crime , but does that necessarily change the ‘mind set’ of the people ? I agree with your argument TG. The indoctrination that many people get in religious institutions is a poor substitute for education that encourages critical thinking. I think part of the problem lies in access to affordable quality education. Some simply don’t have any choice than to go to the mosque or ride in the back of a pick-up on the way to a funeral.

  • mauriceg

    You must have been dreaming, or on Mars for the last 10 years. How can you possibly interpret the horrors in the news as being positive? You need to learn to read properly.

  • keceman

    This is as stupid as saying Soeharto has done a lot for Indonesia. Indonesia should be be at least on the level of Taiwan or Korea. What do we have? A Laos / Vietnam level country. But worse on many levels. That their legacy.
    99% of positives things come because of Internet and mondialisation, not because of those backward, gansteristic governments.