A photo posted on Facebook by Bali United FC on Monday (Jun 5) has netted widespread praise for its message of religious harmony.
The photo, which has been shared close to 12,000 times, shows players Ngurah Nanak, Yabes Roni and Miftahul Hamdi in prayer positions of different faiths in celebration of Yabes’ goal.
Defender Ngurah Nanak, who is Hindu, was pictured standing with his palms raised to his forehead, while Christian forward Yabes, who had just scored Bali United’s second goal against Borneo FC, kneels on the grass. Beside him, Muslim Miftahul is seen praying prostrate.
The photo, shot by Miftahuddin Halim, was captioned: “Because differing beliefs will not stop us from achieving the same goal.”
The post attracted hundreds of comments with people lauding Bali United for attempting to unite Indonesia. The country recently saw racial and religious tensions come to the fore after ex-Jakarta governor Ahok – a Chinese Christian, was sentenced to prison for blasphemy over comments on the Quran. Islamic fundamentalists had agitated for him to be punished, mobilising mass protests against him, though he had apologised.
“FOOTBALL CAN UNITE A NATION”
“It’s beautiful to see that differences have united us as one Indonesia. Save NKRI (Negara Kesatuan Republik Indonesia) … Best for Bali United, hope you become the Liga 1 champion,” said one Facebook user.
Another said: “This is why I support Bali United. Even though they are of different faiths, they respect each other.”
Yet another praised Bali, an Indonesian island popular with tourists: “This is the strength of Bali – tolerance which is key to Indonesia’s harmony.”
Speaking to Kompas after the match on May 14, Yabes said the move was meant to promote unity within Indonesia, despite its citizens practising different faiths and cultures.
“Protect our brotherhood and stay as one,” said the 22-year-old.
His teammate Miftahul said he would be happy if the brief celebration was made an example.
“Football can help unite a nation,” he said to Kompas.