Lawmakers grill religion minister over controversial remarks, agenda – National
Ghina Ghaliya (The Jakarta Post)
Tue 8 September 2020
Religious Affairs Minister Fachrul Razi found himself in hot water again as lawmakers question him about his controversial remarks about radicalism and the ministry’s preacher certification program.
In a working meeting on Tuesday, lawmakers from House of Representatives Committee VIII overseeing religious affairs questioned him about his recent remarks on spreading radical teachings among officials and society through hafiz. “Beautiful” (memorizers of the Koran).
The chairman of the commission, Yandri Susanto, lambasted Fachrul, saying the minister was too ignorant to make such remarks, putting the hafiz on an equal footing with the radicals.
“Personally, I told my children to speak Arabic and memorize the Koran. The government cannot accuse them of being radical, ”said the politician from the National Mandate Party (PAN).
The commission’s vice-chairman, Ace Hasan Syadzily, of the Golkar party, also criticized Fachrul for his callous remarks, arguing that Fachrul had not viewed social media as one of the platforms used to spread radicalism in Indonesia.
“If this were discussed in depth I think it wouldn’t be a problem, but don’t make controversial remarks like that,” he said.
Fachrul said earlier this month during a virtual webinar hosted by the Ministry of Administrative and Bureaucratic Reform that “handsome” people have been spreading radicalism in educational institutions and places of worship.
He maintained that he was unaware that the aforementioned event was open to the public. The retired military general also claimed his statement came from his knowledge of intelligence work, which he said often involved attractive and intelligent people to socialize with residents in the conduct of their operations.
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“This is how intelligence agencies operate […] they attribute beautiful and intelligent people to certain communities, ”Fachrul said, adding that places of worship should always check the backgrounds of preachers they wish to invite.
Other lawmakers have also criticized Fachrul for proposing the “certified preachers” plan for all religions, a program initiated by Vice President Ma’ruf Amin.
The ministry’s program will involve the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI), National Defense Institute (Lemhanas), Pancasila Ideology Education Agency (BPIP), National Counterterrorism Agency (BNPT) and other mass organizations.
Hidayat Nur Wahid of the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) called on Fachrul to abandon the plan and end controversies surrounding the program.
“The House has never discussed the program with the ministry. We don’t agree on that, ”he said.
Responding to criticism, Fachrul explained that the government would not ban preachers who had not yet participated in the certification program.
He said the program was voluntary and aimed to promote nationalism and spread positive messages from rahmatan p’tit alamin (blessing for the whole universe) by moderate Islam.
He added that the ministry would ensure that the program was well received by many parties.
“We want everyone to accept the program because the goal is good for the people and the nation in the future,” Fachrul said during the hearing.
Previously, the minister had been repeatedly criticized for a number of controversial statements and policies, including a draft plan to ban the wearing of the niqab in government institutions, the publication of a ministerial regulation requiring the registration of Quran study groups. with the ministry and the haj’s sudden cancellation due to COVID-19 concerns.