West Java: support for Christian official targeted by Islamists

August 30, 2013 by  
Filed under newsletter-asia

Growing support for Christian official Jakarta, August 28, 2013: A group of demonstrators took to the streets today demanding Susan Jasmine Zulkifli’s removal; among their reasons, the fact that she cannot participate in Muslim functions. Smiling, the official said that everyone has the right “to make their voices heard in a peaceful manner.” Her open straightforward manner has won over her fellow citizens.

The campaign of denigration by Islamic extremists against Susan Jasmine Zulkifli continues. She is a Protestant woman who was appointed sub-district chief in Lenteng Agung, a largely Muslim area south of Jakarta, in West Java.

Today, a few dozen people, wearing Islamic clothing, took to the streets calling on Jakarta Governor Joko Widodo to remove her from office, or move her to an area with a Christian majority.

Unfazed by protesters, a smiling Ms Zulkifli said that the protesters “are local residents” and as such have a right to “make their voices heard in a peaceful manner.”

For days, Lenteng Agung Islamists have been campaigning to oust Susan Jasmine Zulkifli (pictured) because her Christian faith “does not go” with the Muslim majority, a request rejected by the governor of the Indonesian capital.

When they started, the fundamentalists claimed that they had a petition signed by thousands of residents in support of their demand, a petition they never presented to the authorities.

Today, they went back to the streets, dragging some local residents unaware of the purpose of the demonstration.

Those opposed to the current sub-district chief claim that she is not fit for the post because she cannot take part in Muslim religious ceremonies or prayers.

“Send us another leader (who is Muslim)” and “Be wise in your choices,” read one of the banners displayed by the protesters.

In reality, the campaign against the woman is an attempt to gloss over the fact she has done good things in the sub-district in the two months she has been in office.

Susan Jasmine Zulkifli took bolder steps compared to her predecessors, showing herself to be much closer to the residents through frequent visits to the streets, meeting people and exchanging views and opinions with the public. Her style is similar to that of Joko Widodo, something that irritates religious extremists.

To those who complain that she cannot attend Muslim religious services because she is a Christian, she said, “There are many members of my staff who are Muslims. They can participate without a problem in my place.”

Downplaying the issue, she went on to say, “The purpose of my presence in Lenteng Agung is simple: to serve the citizens and enforce the rules.”

Her style and resolve have won over many local women, including some who were protesting in the streets invited by neighbours, as one woman named Rini put it, without any clear idea about the reasons for the protest.

“She’s a good person,” Rini added, “and I started to like her because she is not your typical leader, who just sits behind a desk.”

“Susan is a nice lady, open to everyone. And everyone likes her way of doing things,” said another protester.

– asianews

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