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“Defending Islam” – Hundreds of Islam Defenders Front members stage a rally in front of the National Police headquarters in South Jakarta.

Experts criticise political campaign allegedly involving children

Jakarta (The Jakarta Post) -- The Alliance of Civil Society for the Constitution alerted the public on Tuesday about an increasing number of intolerant practices involving children in Indonesia.

Irwanto, a professor from the Centre on Child Protection and Wellbeing at the University of Indonesia, Henny Supolo, the chairwoman of the Teachers' Light Foundation, and Muhammad Hafiz, executive director of the Human Rights Working Group, were among the members of the group who held a press briefing that highlighted several cases in which children were used to convey sectarian messages.

In a recent video, a group of elementary school children were directed to explain that several Islamic symbols should not be associated with terrorist groups.

“We are not criticising the religious symbol used in one of the videos,” said Muhammad, saying that the release of the video exposed the public to a limited view of Islam. In another video, a boy sang improvised lyrics to one of musician-turned-politician Rhoma Irama's song, “Penasaran” (Curious). Through the song, the boy questioned President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo and Home Minister Tjahjo Kumolo about why current Jakarta Governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama was supposedly being given “special treatment”.

Henny, meanwhile, stressed the importance for children to have freedom of thought. “It is important that children are assisted to develop their freedom of thought.

With freedom of thought, children can see the things that are good for them and their environment,” she said.

(Latest Update March 30, 2017)

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