Indonesia on Thursday celebrated its 72nd Independence Day with a flag hoisting ceremony and a cultural parade in the capital Jakarta. President Joko Widodo in traditional clothes led the flag-raising ceremony at the presidential palace. The event was attended by former presidents, BJ Habibie, Megawati Soekarnoputri and Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, and a large number of state officials, clerics, indigenous people and diplomats.
On Wednesday, the eve of Independence Day, the president said that the world's most populous Muslim-majority country needed to pull together to meet the threat of extremism and safeguard a constitution that enshrines religious freedom and pluralism. In a state address to parliament, Widodo peppered his speech with references to the need to address inequality in Southeast Asia's biggest economy and tackle the threat of radicalism.
Threat of Islamist extremism
Indonesia has been roiled in religious tension since late last year after Islamist-led rallies saw Jakarta's then governor, Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, also known as Ahok, a minority ethnic Chinese and Christian, put on trial during city elections over claims he insulted the Koran. Ahok, an ally of Widodo, lost the bitterly fought city election to a Muslim rival in April and was later jailed for blasphemy, a sentence rights groups and international bodies condemned as unfair and politicized.
Pancasila - unity in diversity
"We want to work together not only in creating an equitable economy, but also in ideological, political, social and cultural development," said Widodo. "In the field of ideology, we have to strengthen our national consensus in safeguarding the Pancasila, the 1945 Constitution, the unity of the Republic of Indonesia and “Bhinneka Tunggal Ika” (unity in diversity)," he said.
Pancasila, or 5 principles, namely belief in one God, a just and civilized society, unity of the country, democracy and social justice, forms the philosophical and political ideology of the Indonesian state, ensuring religious diversity in an officially secular system.
Intolerance and inequality
But there are worries about growing intolerance undermining a tradition of moderate Islam in a country where Muslims form about 85 percent of the population, alongside substantial Buddhist, Christian, Hindu and other minorities.
"The challenges we face now and will face in the future are not easy,” Widodo said. “We are still confronted with poverty and injustice; we are still facing global economic uncertainty, and we are also facing movements of extremism, radicalism and terrorism," Widodo added.
Church - Pancasila
The Catholic Church in Indonesia has been supporting the Pancasila for a prosperous and peaceful nation. The Commission for the Laity of the Indonesian Catholic Bishops' Conference (KWI), organized a meeting at Atma Jaya Catholic University in South Jakarta on August 12, that aimed at raising national social consciousness to reflect on their commitment as Indonesian citizens in the framework of citizenship and nationalism. A few government ministers and retired generals as well as members of several Catholic organizations, participated in the Jakarta meet. A written statement issued before the meeting expressed the firm commitment of Indonesia’s Catholics to safeguard and foster the Pancasila. (Source: Reuters/...)