A university professor on religious freedom, who frequently lectures in Jakarta, has hailed the actions of a local Muslim as an example on how to show tolerance in the “chaos” of elections.
Paul Marshall, senior fellow at the Leimena Institute, welcomed the actions of a man named Fikri, who, despite being of the opinion that Jakarta’s Christian governor, Basuki Tjahaja Purnama (better known as “Ahok”), had committed blasphemy, encouraged people to listen to what he had to say.
“Although Fikri thought Ahok a blasphemer, he did not insult, assail or assault him or, as might happen in many parts of the world, try to kill him,” wrote Marshall in a blog for the Religious Freedom Institute. “Instead, he gave Ahok a Quran, not as a rebuke to show that the Governor was ignorant of what it said, but as a gift welcoming him to the neighborhood.”
Fikri’s actions were first highlighted by the Jakarta Post, which reported that he’d said: “It’s understandable that many people from areas across the city have rejected his campaign visits. But, let Ahok convey his aspirations [for Jakarta] in this area without rejection, so that the people can know who’s wrong and who’s right.”
Marshall hailed Fikri as a “genuinely tolerant man”, adding: “He knew well that he disagreed with Ahok, and could not celebrate blasphemy, and so would not vote for him or support him, and said so publicly and clearly. But he also welcomed the Governor and treated him with kindness.
“Fikri could be a role model, and is a certainly a rebuke to many Americans’ behavior in [the US] election and post-election season. Especially when [Fikri] added that: ‘If Ahok wins the election, as a good citizen, I will accept it wholeheartedly’.”
Ahok won the initial vote on 15 February, but not enough to secure his re-election. A new round of voting will take place in April, pitting him against his nearest rival, Anies Baswedan.