Obama urges end to di­vi­sion in In­done­sia

CityPress - - News -

For­mer US pres­i­dent Barack Obama urged In­done­sians yes­ter­day to re­sist di­vi­sive pol­i­tics based on race and re­li­gion, say­ing the world’s most pop­u­lous Mus­lim na­tion had a long his­tory of tol­er­ance that should be pre­served.

In­done­sia’s rep­u­ta­tion for plu­ral­ism has come un­der scru­tiny since Jakarta Gov­er­nor Ba­suki Tja­haja Pur­nama, an eth­nic Chi­nese Chris­tian, was sen­tenced in May to two years in prison for blas­phemy in a trial that came af­ter Is­lamist-led ral­lies.

Obama, who was on a visit to the coun­try where he spent some of his child­hood, said the Mus­lim com­mu­nity in In­done­sia had his­tor­i­cally pro­tected Hindu and Bud­dhist tem­ples.

“In­done­sia is made of thou­sands of is­lands, hun­dreds of lan­guages, scores of re­gions and eth­nic groups. So my time here made me cher­ish and re­spect peo­ple’s dif­fer­ences,” he told a packed au­di­ence in Jakarta.

Obama stopped short of men­tion­ing any spe­cific cases of ra­cial or re­li­gious in­tol­er­ance.

“It is very im­por­tant here in In­done­sia, the US, Europe, ev­ery­where, to fight against the pol­i­tics of ‘us and them’,” he said to cheers.

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