Former Indonesian first lady named on most influential list

Sinta Nuriyah Wahid recognised by 'Time' for promoting tolerance and democratic values
Former Indonesian first lady named on most influential list

Former first lady Sinta Nuriyah Wahid is seen here with current President Joko Widodo in this September 2013 file photo. (Photo supplied)

The naming of Indonesia's former first lady, Sinta Nuriyah Wahid, as one of the as one of 2018's 100 most influential people by Time magazine has been welcomed by Christian leaders.

Nuriyah, 70, wife of the late Indonesia President Abdurrahman Wahid or Gus Dur, is known for her progressiveness, support for democracy and work in protecting the rights of minority groups.

She has remained undeterred amid the challenges from hard-line Islamic groups in recent years, Time said. 

The magazine cited her work in providing counseling for transgender women, support for, Basuki Tjahaja Purnama — the former Christian governor of Jakarta convicted of blasphemy last year.

Christian leaders said Nuriyah fully deserved to be on the list.

Theophilus Bella, a Catholic lay leader and former chairman of the Jakarta Christian Communications Forum said Nuriyah is a shining example of what her late husband was fighting for.

"Her tolerant and very open attitude is a light that always gives hope to minority groups who face intimidation and harassment," he told ucanews.com on April 23.

"Her commitment inspires minorities to think that Indonesia will overcome those groups looking to undermine it secular philosophy," he added.

Reverend Palti Panjaitan, from the Batak Protestant Church (HKBP) Filadelfia in Bekasi, West Java said Nuriyah was "a loving mother."

The Filadelfia church was forced to close several years ago because of opposition from hard-line Muslim groups, an example of which the congregation pelted with animal dung, stones and bags of urine when trying to attend a church service.

Panjaitan, who is also the chairman of the rights group Solidarity of Victims of Violations of Freedom of Religion and Beliefs, said he often met Nuriyah to discuss the problems they faced.

"She always told us to keep fighting and respect others, including those who attacked us, as fellow human beings," he said.

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