TNI warns against ‘foreign interference’ dividing Indonesia

Indonesian Military (TNI) commander Gen. Gatot  Nurmantyo reiterated on Saturday that the country must close ranks to maintain unity because there were indications that external parties were attempting to divide the nation.

“We have to be aware of ‘invincible hands’ that are designing efforts to weaken our nation,” he said at the ‘Indonesianisme Summit’ discussion held in Jakarta.

Providing an example, Gatot said there were some people who currently wanted to exploit Muslim groups’ anger against Jakarta Governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama, who was named a blasphemy suspect last month, to overthrow President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo.

On Nov. 20, fake news spread on the internet claiming that Islam Defenders Front (FPI) leader Rizieq Shihab had been hospitalized after being beaten by a member of the Army Strategic Reserves Command (Kostrad). The FPI jointly organized two massive rallies in Jakarta on Nov. 4 and Dec. 2 to push for the prosecution of Ahok, a Christian of Chinese descent, who allegedly made a blasphemous comment about a Quranic verse during a visit to Thousand Islands regency in late September.

Investigations by law-enforcement agencies, however, found that the sources of the fake news were internet portals in Australia and the United States, Gatot said.

Cases like this, he said, had to be dealt with in the spirit of unity, by upholding the national philosophy of Bhinneka Tunggal Ika – Unity in Diversity.

“If there is no Islam, it is not Indonesia; if there is no Christianity, it is not Indonesia; if there is no Hinduism, it is not Indonesia; if there is no Buddhism; it is not Indonesia,” he said.

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