Sun, 26 Jan 2003

Bali tragedy observed with joint prayers

Debbie A. Lubis, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Dozens of students observed on Saturday the 100th day of the bomb attack on Bali, asserting the need for the nation to put differences behind them in the fight against all acts of terror.

They gathered at the University of Indonesia's (UI) old campus in Salemba, in Central Jakarta, to pray according to their respective beliefs. A videotape of the bomb aftermath in the Bali's renowned tourist resort of Legian was displayed later on.

To live up to their own pledge, participants of the joint prayer listened to sermons delivered by religious leaders representing the five legalized religions in the country: Islam, Protestant, Catholicism, Hinduism and Buddhism.

The Oct. 12, 2002 Bali bombings left more than 190 people, mainly foreign tourists, killed and more than 300 others injured. The blasts were the worst act of terror since those on the United States on Sept. 11, 2001.

Lenny Hidayani of the UI Buddhist Student Association (KMBUI) who chaired the event's organizing committee said that the joint prayer was aimed at renewing calls for a peaceful movement against terrorism.

"We need a breakthrough in our bid to remove segregation in our country. Religious values like forgiveness should be promoted throughout the country so that there will be no more hatred, revenge, or anxiety among religious followers," she said.

The religious leaders recited prayers asking for a helping hand from heaven to people the country, the government and other countries.

They called on people to remove all grudges with the perpetrators of the Bali bombings and to join forces despite their diversity in promoting peace across the country and the world.

"Lord, please let us uphold your nature of being merciful, forgiving, caring and loving so that we can put away our hatred, selfishness and egoism. Please guide us to lead the future life in harmony," former supreme court justice Bismar Siregar, who represented Muslims, said during in his sermon.

He added that as religious people, Indonesians should learn from the Bali bomb attack in order not to repeat the tragedy.

Another preacher, father Hariyanto of Jakarta, asserted the need for forgiveness. He hoped victims of the Bali tragedy and their families would be able to hold on despite the tribulations.

"We pray for those who were crippled for the rest of their life. May God give them strength to accept their condition. May our Lord enable us to comfort and to be comforted, to understand and to be understood, to love and to be loved, and to forget and forgive," he said.

The religious leaders also appealed to the government and leaders of countries in the world to be wise and not to spread hatred that would only trigger conflict among people.

"God, please let us live in peace and harmony without any other humanitarian tragedy. Not in Bali, not in this country or elsewhere in the world, including in Iraq," Putu Setia, a Hindu preacher, prayed.

He emphasized that Indonesians should not fall into a cycle of revenge and that national leaders must improve their sensitivity to all suffering of the people.

The students then sang different religious songs after the sermons and raised some funds to be given to the victims of fire in Jakarta.

A group of students from the UI Christian Students Association (KMKUI) sang: ...Open your heart to the Lord; We are all together as one family; No more walls, no more chains; No more selfishness and closed doors; It's time to pray, a time to praise; A time to lift our hands to God...