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Jakarta Post

Chief Pancasila campaigner wants to replace ‘assalamu 'alaikum’ as national greeting

  • News Desk

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Sat, February 22, 2020   /   11:56 am
Chief Pancasila campaigner wants to replace ‘assalamu 'alaikum’ as national greeting Agency for Pancasila Ideology Education (BPIP) head Yudian Wahyudi in an interview with Detik posted on YouTube. (YouTube/detikcom)

Agency for Pancasila Ideology Education (BPIP) head Yudian Wahyudi has drawn public controversy after saying that “assalamu ‘alaikum” could be replaced by “salam Pancasila” as a national greeting during an exclusive interview with detik.com.

The academic and rector of Sunan Kalijaga State Islamic University in Yogyakarta believed that “salam Pancasila” would be able to represent the greetings of all official religions recognized in Indonesia.

“We were already comfortable with ‘good morning’. But since reformasi, we have replaced it with ‘assalamu ‘alaikum’ in any place no matter if Christians or Hindus are [in the audience],” he said, referring to the reform movement following the downfall of president Soeharto.

“Because when it reached a point where it had become extreme, the new way emerged on the use of greetings of different religions,” Yudian said, pointing at President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo’s signature greeting style.

It is common practice for President Jokowi — who is Muslim — and many government officials to open their speeches with a litany of traditional religious greetings. They start with “assalamu 'alaikum” for Muslims, “shalom” for Christians, “om swastiastu” for Hindus, “namo buddhaya” for Buddhists and “salam kebajikan” or “wei de dong tian”for Confucians.

However, Yudian admitted that he personally preferred the greeting of “salam Pancasila”, which he claimed was created by Yudi Latief, an Indonesian activist and young intellectual whose writing works often raised the theme of the state ideology.

Yudian’s choice was derived from his reflection on the relationship between Pancasila and religion.

Read also: ‘Pancasila’s biggest enemy is religion’: Indonesia’s ideology chief’s comment sparks outcry

In the beginning of the interview, he lamented religious groups and those using religion as a political tool to further personal interests during the transition period from the New Order.

Since the Reform Era, he said, political parties and mass organizations were allowed to adopt religious ideologies rather than Pancasila. From that point on, he said, the state ideology had been “annihilated” at the administrative level.

“Therefore, religion is the biggest threat to Pancasila,” he said.

In response to Yudian’s remarks, former forestry minister MS Kaban said the BPIP’s proposal to replace the greetings of Muslims had gone too far that the agency should be dissolved.

“One sentence, disperse the anti-religion BPIP. History shows that those who don’t like religion, especially Islam, are clearly communists,” he wrote on his Twitter account @hmskaban on Friday.

Jokowi appointed Yudian as BPIP head earlier this month in the hope that the BPIP could promote Pancasila values to society, particularly among the younger generation. Yudian succeeded Yudi Latif, who stepped down in June 2018 and was temporarily replaced by vice chairman Hariyono as acting chairman. (syk)