Carlos Ky Paath & Adi Marsiela, Jakarta – Indonesia observed a peaceful Idul Fitri celebration on Wednesday with a message of unity and calls for reconciliation, following this year's elections and their violent aftermath, which many believe had sharpened divisions within the nation.
"Let's spread forgiveness and build togetherness," Said Aqil Husin Al Munawar, a former religious affairs minister, said in his sermon during the Idul Fitri prayer at Istiqlal Mosque in Central Jakarta.
President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo and first lady Iriana attended the prayer along with Religious Affairs Minister Lukman Hakim Saifuddin and several foreign envoys. "Let go of any anger, resentment and hatred for others," Said Aqil said.
Jokowi earlier issued a statement wishing Indonesians a happy holiday. "Happy Idul Fitri 1 Shawal 1440 Hijrah, and forgive me for wrongdoing. Let us make this Idul Fitri a time to strengthen our unity and brotherhood as a nation," the president said.
"With a pure heart, let's build a better, more advanced and more prosperous Indonesia," he added.
This year's presidential election was a rematch between Jokowi and a former Army general Prabowo Subianto. Election campaigns were dotted with explicit hate speech, hoaxes and identity politics based on religion, which observers say stoked tensions.
West Java Governor Ridwan Kamil joined the call for unity, reminding the public that Indonesia was too special to allow political differences to break it apart.
"Not all nations are given the opportunity to have the state we have," Ridwan said. He said countries such as Syria and Afghanistan were less diverse than Indonesia but that the differences within them had led to chaos.
If Indonesians continue to only focus on their differences, it would shape a similar type of thinking that resulted in the situation that arose in those countries, he said.
"From the mind came hatred, from hatred came riots, from riots arose war, disintegrating the countries," Ridwan said.
He expressed hope that Indonesians could find peace within themselves and instead focus on the things that unite the nation.
"We have different appetites, but we have the same prayer. Let's look hard for similarities rather than differences. We may come from different Islamic organizations, but the pillars of Islam are the same. We have different presidential choices, but our creed is the same," Ridwan said.
Those attending Wednesday's gathering also shared their experiences and expectation to find a message of peace in this year Idul Fitri prayer.
"The preacher this morning reminded us of ukhuwah Islamiyah [brotherhood in Islam]?; that we are all brothers and must keep reminding ourselves to unite. Peaceful. Thank God," a Twitter user wrote.
Other expressed disdain for preachers who express hatred toward others.
"Ied prayer in Sodonghilir, Tasik. The preacher said: 'Hopefully, Idul Fitri will erase the hatred towards others coming from the politics of the presidential and legislative elections.' Isn't that peaceful... Then, the Tasikmalaya district head a few minutes later: 'There are enemies of Islam who want to destroy Islam, so we should not be indifferent to politics.' Can I mute you?" the Twitter user wrote.