Diplomacy

Following Domestic Concern, Indonesia Summons Indian Envoy Over Delhi Riots

The iconic image of a Muslim man being beaten in Delhi has roiled public opinion in the south-east Asian nation but its foreign ministry said it had full confidence India will restore communal harmony soon.

New Delhi: With rising domestic criticism, the Indonesian foreign ministry on Friday summoned the Indian ambassador over the Delhi riots and expressed confidence that the Indian government will be able to “manage the situation” and restore communal harmony.

In over three days of violence, 42 people were killed and over 200 injured in violent communal riots that embroiled neighbourhoods in north-east Delhi.

According to the Jakarta Post, the Indonesian foreign ministry called Indian ambassador Pradeep Kumar Rawat on Friday “to discuss the riots that have claimed dozens of lives”.

The newspaper reported that the foreign ministry issued a statement in which Indonesia expressed “complete confidence” on India’s ability to control the riots.

“The government of Indonesia has complete confidence that the government of India will be able to manage the situation and ensure the harmonious relations among its religious communities. Moreover, both countries share similar characteristics, as pluralistic countries that uphold democratic values and tolerance,” said the Indonesian foreign ministry, as quoted in the Post.

After a separate meeting, Rawat told reporters that the situation in India was “under control” and urged them to disregard “false news”.

Everything is peaceful. And as is known, the situation in India is under control. And what I will convey to you, is a press release from our Minister of Home Affairs for your reference,” Rawat said at the Office of the Coordinating Ministry for Politics and Security on Friday, as reported by Kompas.

“And of course, we advise our friends not to believe in false news that is misled by personal interests that try to disrupt the bond of our country’s plurality,” said Rawat.

He asserted that Indonesia and India believed in the same spirit of unity in diversity.

“And there are a lot of personal and group interests that want to destroy that bond. Because if that bond is lost, there is no India, there is no Indonesia. Therefore, my friend, I tell you to be very careful and not believe false news about that, thank you,” said Rawat.

The Jakarta Post had also noted that the foreign ministry’s statement on the summoning of the Indian ambassador came just after a statement from the religious affairs ministry.

Noting that the foreign ministry statement was typical, the Jakarta Post said that it was an “apparent attempt to calm Indonesian Muslims after photos of the rioting, including one that shows the beating of a Muslim man by Hindu nationalists, circulated online”.

The photograph of the man, Mohammad Zubair, has emerged as the iconic image of the riots. In an interview to The Wire, Zubair said his attackers pounced on him because of his beard and cap.

“There is no religion that allows violence, regardless of what the motives are. Upholding humanity is the essence of all religions,” said Indonesian religious affairs minister Fachrul Razi in the statement.

The Indonesian minister asserted that the violence committed by some Hindus in India “did not reflect the teachings of Hinduism, but is the result of an extreme understanding held by some Hindus about their own religion”.

Hoping that peace would return soon, minister Razi trusted that “the people of Indonesia can learn something from what is happening in India”.

Earlier, Indonesia’s two biggest Islamic organisations had called on their government to take diplomatic steps to bring peace in India.

The Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), which represents the traditionalist Sunni Islam in Indonesia, stated that it condemned “any kind of violence, including actions to attack different groups”.

“We urged the Indonesian government to take diplomatic measures and be involved in any efforts to bring peace to India. These efforts are important as part of [Indonesia’s] responsibility to the international community — creating peace and security,” stated NU secretary general Faishal Zaini on Thursday.

Meanwhile, Muhammadiyah, Indonesia’s second largest Islamic group with reformist roots, urged the Indian government to “stop any kind of discrimination and violence against its citizens, especially the Muslims”.

Indonesia should take the issue to the United Nations Security council and encourage other nations to make a stand, organization’s secretary-general, Abdul Mu’thi argued. Indonesia is a UNSC non-permanent member. “What is happening there could threaten peace in South Asia and the world,” he said.