NU chief asks Amien, Gus Dur to end feud
JAKARTA (JP): Hasyim Muzadi, chairman of the largest Muslim organization Nadhlatul Ulama (NU), called on President Abdurrahman Wahid and People's Consultative Assembly speaker Amien Rais to end their personal row to help calm their supporters at the grassroots level.
He said the heightened tension between NU supporters and those supporting Muhammadiyah stem from the two statesmen's row.
"We are now putting out the fire," he said in a meeting of the Association of NU University Graduates here on Monday.
The perceived tension between Abdurrahman and his critics has heightened political tension particularly among their supporters in East Java.
Amien has criticized Abdurrahman urging him to step down in view of the government's poor performance.
The President has countered Amien and his critics daring them to hold a special Assembly session to impeach him.
Abdurrahman however has also rebuked his supporters for going too far in their expression of support for him against those who criticize him.
Hasyim said on Monday Amien's criticism against the President spurred NU members to take action in several towns in East Java, which is known as a strong bastion for NU.
Nevertheless he also conceded that NU supporters have misunderstood the row since it really had nothing to do with the two major Muslim organizations.
"What has been reported is a distortion of an emotional situation where NU supporters are getting angered by the row in Jakarta," he said
He also denied reports that NU's East Java provincial chapter had barred Amien from visiting Pasuruan on Saturday, saying: "I have checked on it with Ali Maschan Moesa, chairman of NU's provincial chapter in East Java and he claimed he never prevented Amien from visiting Pasuruan."
Hasyim said he has also recently met with Muhammadiyah chairman Syafii Maarif to discuss efforts to solve the conflict.
"We are of the opinion that the row between the two leaders has no relation with the two organizations and agreed to make efforts to quell the tension as soon as possible," he said.
He said he and Syafei would make a joint visit to several towns in East Java to help calm the situation immediately.
"We are seeking an appropriate time to conduct the joint visit," he said.
Asked whether the two organizations would take an initiative to bring the two conflicting leaders to meet to end their row, Hasyim said he and Syafei did not discuss the idea.
"The recent meeting did not touch on that matter because we are of the opinion that the conflict between the President and the Assembly speaker has nothing to do with the internal matters of the two organizations," he said.
Meanwhile, in Surabaya, 19 young NU ulemas expressed their support for the national leadership under Abdurrahman and, simultaneously, criticized eight political figures who they said have issued misleading statements that raised confusion among the people.
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The ulemas' support was declared by their spokesman Fachrur Rozi Cholili, before a number of members of the East Java provincial legislative council who received them on Monday.
Fachrur called on the eight political figures to stop issuing anti-Gus Dur statements that have raised confusion among the people and ulemas in the province.
The eight figures were identified as Amien Rais, former finance minister Fuad Bawazir, House of Representatives Speaker Akbar Tandjung, Crescent Star Party (PBB) legislators Achmad Sumargono and Hartono Mardjono, National Mandate Party (PAN) legislator Alvin Lie, and Golkar Party legislators Ade Komaruddin and Priyo Budi Santoso.
Further expression of support was also demonstrated when about 1,000 youths greeted the President when he arrived in Semarang, Central Java, to attend a seminar on Islam and Humanism.
The youths in their oration said they supported the national leadership under Abdurrahman and Vice President Megawati Soekarnoputri who have a right to govern until their term ends in 2004.(rms/nur/har)