Jesuit administrators of Canisius College, right, meet with senior figures of the Muhammadiyah Islamic group in Jakarta. (ucanews.com photo)
Jesuit priests have thanked leaders of Indonesia’s second largest Islamic organization for preventing a Muslim hardline group from stoking religious tensions by averting a planned protest at a Jesuit-run school in Jakarta.
A group called Gerakan Pemuda Jalan Lurus Jakarta had planned to stage a protest on Nov.17 at Canisius College in retaliation for an earlier in which many of the school’s alumni walked out while Jakarta governor Anies Baswedan was delivering a speech during a school 90th anniversary event.
The walkout sparked anger among the governor’s supporters, some of whom include hardline groups.
Well-known musician Ananda Sukarlan left the venue on Nov.12 followed by more a 100 alumni, in what he said was a protest against the governor who won the governor election in April by exploiting race and religious issues to defeat Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, a Chinese Christian.
Jesuit Father Joannes Heru Hendarto, the rector of Canisius College, said the hardline group’s protest was canceled thanks to the intervention of the Muslim group Muhammadiyah and Governor Baswedan who said the alumni’s actions were spontaneous and did not represent the school’s stance.
"We thank Muhammadiyah leaders because they have defused a potentially harmful protest from taking place in this school," Father Hendarto said.
On Nov. 16, the Jesuits also met Baswedan. The governor then issued a statement, calling on his supporters not to exaggerate the issue.