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What a soldier can do to fix religion in Indonesia

Despite criticism in certain circles, Fachrul Razi's appointment as religious affairs minister may be a good thing

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Support Asia's largest network of Catholic journalists and editors
What a soldier can do to fix religion in Indonesia

Indonesia's new Religious Affairs Minister Fachrul Razi (right) and former minister Lukman Hakim Saifuddin during a handover ceremony at the ministry on Oct. 24 in Jakarta. (Photo supplied by Religious Affairs Ministry)

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The appointment of a former general, Fachrul Razi, as Indonesia's religious affairs minister has drawn fire, particularly from Muslim clerics who say the post has traditionally been the domain of Islamic groups.

Giving it to someone outside their circle ignores this history and shows a misunderstanding of the minister’s function, the groups claim.

Opponents of the move include Robikin Emhas, a senior official in Indonesia’s biggest and moderate Muslim organization, Nahdlatul Ulama. He said many of his fellow clerics were disappointed President Joko Widodo did not appoint one of them.

Lawmaker Sodik Mudjahid, one of the MPs who oversee religious affairs, doubted Razi’s ability to lead the ministry as he is not a Muslim scholar.

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