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Widodo wise to turn to religion

Indonesian president looks for help from religious leaders to guide country from lockdown to 'new normal'

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Widodo wise to turn to religion

Indonesian President Joko Widodo visits a community as he distributes basic need packages to people affected by the Covid-19 pandemic in Jakarta. (Photo: Adek Berry/AFP)

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As Indonesia gradually eases Covid-19 restrictions, though not simultaneously across the nation, President Joko Widodo has turned to religious leaders to support his exit strategy.

On June 2, four days after an opinion poll revealed public dissatisfaction with the government’s handling of the pandemic, Widodo held a closed-door meeting with eight religious figures to solicit their opinions and support.

These figures included the Indonesian Bishops' Conference chairman, Cardinal Ignatius Suharyo, and Rev. Gomar Gultom, head of the Communion of Churches in Indonesia.

The meeting was considered important as three days later Jakarta governor Anies Baswedan announced the start of the “new normal” in the capital city of more than 11 million inhabitants.

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