PHOTO: General Gatot Nurmantyo appears on the cover of Globe Asia magazine. (ABC News: Adam Harvey)
Indonesia's President Joko Widodo has enlisted moderate Islamic clerics to try and convince Indonesians they need to resist the lure of intolerant hardliners.
The ABC was the only Australian media outlet invited to central Java to see a major show of support for the President.
For a sweltering six hours, thousands of whiteclad young Muslims waited for their country's leader inside an opensided marquee in the city of Pekalongan.
Packed so tight that there was no room to move without treading on someone else, the audience slowly sautéed in the 40degreeCelsiusheat, singing to pass the time. Finally, the warmup act, local cleric Habib Mohammad Luthfi bin Yahya, told the crowd he was furious that hardliners were threatening Indonesia's unity.
"It's not just lip service, it's our strength," he said. "Clerics are standing together with the President, with the military chief, with the police chief. We are the fortress in Indonesia." 'We have been blessed with plurality'
Mr Widodo sat nearby on the floor, alongside police chief Tito Karnavian and the controversial armed forced chief Gatot Nurmantyo.
General Gatot seemed unruffled by last week's stoush with the Australian Defence Force, in which he suspended military cooperation with Australia over "offensive" material about West Papua displayed at an Australian Special Forces base in Perth.
Indonesia's hard men presented a united front in the face of protests from Islamists, who were calling for sharia law and a ban on nonMuslims holding public office.
Finally, Mr Widodo took to the stage. "We have been blessed with plurality and we need to be grateful, yet we also need to maintain our unity," he said.
"Unlike some countries that only have one ethnicity, we've got 700. "We need to be grateful — it's our strength." The President and the nation's Chinese people have been targeted recently by ugly online campaigns.
The trouble is fuelled by hardline groups like the Islamic Defenders Front, the FPI, and coincides with the blasphemy case against Jakarta's Christian Governor Ahok, who is accused of insulting the Koran.
"You can obtain information from anywhere but who can filter which ones are lies and which ones are the truth, which ones are slander and which ones are the truth, which ones are provocations and which ones aren't," Mr Widodo said.
"If information isn't filtered or screened many of us would make mistakes in judgment and in the end it can break up our unity and togetherness."