The Jakarta Post
Indonesia's second largest Islamic organization, Muhammadiyah, has urged Muslims across the country to remain calm over the flag-burning incident that occurred on Monday at a National Santri (Muslim students) Day celebration in Garut, West Java.
In a press release provided on Thursday, Muhammadiyah central executive board chairman Haedar Nashir said he hoped all Muslims would refrain from engaging in public debate over the incident to avoid negative impacts to the nation.
“We believe that Muslims, and all Indonesians, can protect the national unity […]. We have learned a lot from many bitter experiences before this, and these spiritual lessons are more than enough to grow as a mature people and a nation. Don’t let this flag-burning incident divide us and cause us to fight amongst ourselves,” he said in the statement.
Haedar also asked everyone to forgive each other.
“We all love Indonesia and there is no party that claims they are the most nationalistic,” he added.
He advised Muslims, especially Muhammadiyah followers, not to respond en masse to the flag-burning incident.
“Instead, let’s create an atmosphere of peace and togetherness,” he stressed.
During Monday's event, three members of the Barisan Ansor Serbaguna (Banser) youth wing of Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), the largest Muslim organization, took down a black flag bearing an Islamic text in Arabic and burned it, believing that the flag represented the banned Hizbut Tahrir Indonesia (HTI) Islamic organization.
The incident raised tensions among Muslims. Many argued that the flag burning was offensive, since it was not an HTI flag and instead bore the Shahada, the Islamic creed declaring faith in God and Prophet Muhammad.
At a press conference on Wednesday, Banser refused to apologize for burning the flag, because they believed at the time of the act that the flag belonged to the outlawed HTI.