President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo and First Lady Iriana attended a National Santri Day rally in Surakarta, Central Java, on Saturday, meeting with tens of thousands of santri (Islamic boarding school students) from across the country.
“Santri must be able to safeguard diversity,” Jokowi said at the event. “Indonesia is made up of many tribes, religions, cultures and races. Those differences should make us want to get to know and respect each other.”
Abdul Ghoffarrozin, the head of the Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) pesantren (Islamic boarding school) wing, said this year’s National Santri Day rally was attended by 48,000 santri from 34 provinces and was part of a commitment by santri to protect the Unitary State of the Republic of Indonesia.
“I hope that rallies like this can strengthen the synergy between the government and pesantren,” Abdul said.
National Santri Day was established by a presidential decree in 2015 to commemorate the declaration of the Jihad Resolution by Muslim cleric and NU founder Muhammad Hasyim Asy’ari on Oct. 22, 1945. In the declaration, Hasyim urged Muslims in the country to fight against Dutch forces to uphold the nation’s independence.
According to data from the Religious Affairs Ministry, there are over 25,000 pesantren across the country with around 3.65 million santri.
Jokowi had promised to establish National Santri Day during his campaign for presidency in 2014. (kmt/ipa)