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The participants of the interfaith workshop (photos: UEM).

The political temperature in the country has increased as a result of the simultaneous general election in 2018 and 2019. The election, legislative election, and President election that will be held in the near future have pushed the escalation of social-political tension among the elite and grassroots. This matter can not be separated from the interest attraction, the difference of political aspiration, the politicization of religion, and the sharp ideology of politics as indicated by the occurrence of heat and escalation potential of conflict in election  DKI Jakarta in 2017. DKI Jakarta which is the capital city of the State seems to be a "battlefield" various interest groups to fight that seemed to justify any means, such as politicizing religion, black campaign, money politics, and SARA (race, religion and origin) politics. It is no wonder then that the Election of DKI Jakarta is considered as general election a sense of "Presidential Election" because its multiplier effect is national scale.

Here, the rules of the election are violated and crashed to gain victory in political contestation. As a result, democracy is not a platform for the use of political rights in an adult and dignified way, but a mass-raising event for power struggles and mutual exchanges.

The case of Jakarta General Election and other Election that has caused friction, conflict, and social disharmony certainly should be anticipated so as not to happen again so that the election process as a routine agenda can be held well. Negative and destructive things that potentially injure the election process (Election, legislative election, and Presidential election), such as money politics, religious politicization, and SARA (race, religion and origin) politics, need to be minimized and eliminated as much as possible.

In this context, the role of religious leaders is needed, since they are still a role model for the community, people, jama'ah, or the wider community. The religious leaders who are considered relatively free from political interests are social agents for efforts to educate people's lives, to build social harmony, and to promote the nation's culture. As part of the concern for the nation's problems, Dialogue Centre UIN Sunan Kalijaga and GKJTU Salatiga in partnership with UEM Wuppertal Germany hosted a "Together Religion for Political Year" seminar at the UIN Convention Hall Sunan Kalijaga Yogyakarta on March 10, 2018.

The results of the objectives of the implementation of seminar activities as follows,

(1) dig deeper into the role of interfaith leaders in the face of elections,

(2) strengthening cooperation network between interfaith leaders in facing the issue of politicization of religion in General Election,

(3) to identify issues that will arise in relation to religious issues in elections,

(4) provide equipment for religious leaders in managing different views on political choice,

(5) provide an early warning for religious leaders when there is politicization of religion in elections, and

(6) disseminating the platform of religious leaders in maturing the political attitudes of people or society.

The activities of the semiloka include 4 (four) sessions, namely: Opening, Seminar, Workshop, and Declaration of Shared & Close Attitude. The opening session is filled by: Pdt. Drs. Heru Purwanto, M.Hum (Head of GKJTU Salatiga), Dr. H. Zainuddin (Director of Dialogue Centre UIN Sunan Kalijaga) who at once opened the workshop, and  Keynote speech. Prof. KH. YudianWahyudi, MA, Ph.D. (Rector of UIN Sunan Kalijaga).

Seminar sessions were filled by presentations from six religions:

Islam by Dr. Zuly Qodir, MSi

Christian By Pdt. Dr. Djoko Prasetyo, MA

Catholic by Dr. Joko Wicoyo

Buddha by Pandita Totok Tejomano S. Ag, M. Hum

Hinduism by Budi Raharja MA

Confucianism by Ari

Discussions on Interreligious Issues in 3 Commissions

Meanwhile, in the workshop session, the seminar participants were guided by Dr. Mahmud Arif and Salatiga GKJTU team conducted a commission meeting and presented the results. The participants of the seminar, which came from representatives of interfaith figures amounted to 49 people, divided into 3 commissions, namely

(1) Commission A which discusses the topic of the Role of Religion in Elections, with sub-topics: Educating people to vote wisely, synergize with others in keeping elections fair, Reconciling social conflicts / tensions due to the politicization of religion in campaigns election;

(2) Commission B discussing the topic The impact of religious politicization in elections, with sub-topics: Conflict and community dispute, religious hijacking for justification of political interests, and Degradation of the noble role of religion for the life of the people;

(3) Commission C discussing the topic of Anticipation of Religious Politicization in Elections, with sub-topics: Proactive efforts of religious leaders in early detection of potential religious politicization, Utilization of medsos (social media) to build community politics maturity, and formation of task force volunteers) anti-politicizing religion in the Election.

The last session is the Joint Declaration on the 9 points of accuracy of interfaith leaders in order to maintain a conducive atmosphere and political maturity in the upcoming election event. The results of the Joint Declaration of Religious Leaders are reported in the People's Sovereign Chart (Kedaulatan Rakyat) page 2, with the headline "Refusing Politicization of Religion and Radicalism" (March 11, 2018).

Due to the dynamic process of commission meetings in discussing each topic, the workshop schedule which was originally ended at 15.30 WIB was forced to be postponed until 16:15 pm and the closure was just held at 16:30 pm. This indicates that the participants of the interfaith leaders in each commission are involved in intensive discussions to equate perceptions and formulate the results to be presented well. A new experience for them to be actively involved in small group discussions of interfaith leaders on actual and crucial topics.

Lesson Learnt

1. Workshops in the spirit of togetherness and diversity as involving interfaith leaders turn out to be an effective means of building cross-faith communication and synergy in the face of social problems without prejudice;

2. The fluid atmosphere among resource persons during seminars and between participants during the workshop reinforced the belief that religious differences are not an obstacle to equating perceptions in the face of the political year; religious politicization is considered a common enemy for the process of dignified political democracy

3. The Joint Declaration is useful for fostering the moral commitment of interfaith leaders to take an active role in safeguarding the electoral process to be fair and just in accordance with the values ​​of democracy and the noble teachings of religion. Therefore, the dissemination of this and the strengthening of its network to all corners of the country is urgently needed through affirmative measures and programs.

Additional Information for Fundraising & Public Relations

For the implementation of Semiloka activities and the like does require funding support. Stakeholders of both Government and NGOs can be partners as funders to enable such activities to be carried out in various places, especially areas where the potential for religious politicization is high. The role of religious leaders, especially interfaith leaders, is needed to build social resilience to the latent threat of religious politicization, since political logic tends to justify any means to achieve the goal of power. Governments, community organizations, political parties, NGOs and other stakeholders need to jointly anticipate the negative impact of religious politicization by the political year. Because social reconciliation due to the conflict is not as easy as turning the palm. The socio-economic cost is too expensive. Therefore, a series of preventive and anticipatory steps are needed.

Results Semiloka and Declaration

The results of this workshop can be concluded as a declaration of religious leaders in the face of the election year,

1. Supporting an honest, fair elections in peace and unity

2. Support every citizen to exercise his political rights in the conduct of elections

3. Ready to synergize with all parties for the implementation of the election in accordance with the constitution of the Unitary Republic of Indonesia

4. Ready to maintain harmony before, during and after the election, both personally and institutionally

5. Ready to participate actively in the peace process in case of conflicts related to the implementation of the election by prioritizing deliberations

6. Not involved in practical politics, but play a role in the formation of political values

7. Ready to carry out the strengthening of political education of values ​​for prospective leaders and religious people in a comprehensive manner

8. Consistently implement the values ​​of Pancasila

Rev. Dr Claudia Währisch-Oblau, head of the Evangelism department of UEM

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