Jakarta. President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo has condemned the recent string of religiously motivated attacks in Indonesia by saying that there is no room for intolerance in the archipelago.
"I must emphasize that there is no place for those who are incapable of tolerance in our country, Indonesia, and even more so when they use violence," Jokowi told reporters in Jakarta on Monday (12/02).
The president's comment follows an attack by a sword-wielding assailant on the Saint Lidwina Catholic Church in Sleman, Yogyakarta, on Sunday. Four people, including a priest and a policeman, were injured before the assailant was shot by police and taken to hospital.
The attack is the latest in a series of incidents involving religiously motivated violence, which many fear may incite religious tensions ahead of regional and general elections scheduled to take place over the next 18 months.
The attack came just a day after President Jokowi held a gathering with religious leaders aimed at maintaining religious harmony and peace, while also encouraging greater tolerance among Indonesians.
Jokowi stressed that the Constitution guarantees freedom of religion and that Indonesians of different faiths have lived in harmony for decades.
"I have instructed the law enforcement authorities to act firmly and the state will continue to uphold the Constitution," Jokowi said.
He added that National Police chief Gen. Tito Karnavian is still investigating the attack and has yet to confirm whether the incident was politically motivated.
The Setara Institute, an Indonesia-based rights group, said religious leaders and organizations must assist law enforcement agencies to stop and prevent provocative actions that may trigger feelings of insecurity, hatred or anger, which could result in vigilantism and violence.
The institute has recorded various recent cases of religiously motivated violence in the archipelago. In one incident, a Muslim cleric was tortured by a group of people from a different Islamic sect in Bandung, West Java. In another, a Buddhist monk was forced by neighbors of a different faith to leave his home in Tangerang, Banten.