A Christian governor in Jakarta

He’s a powerful leader in the world’s largest Muslim nation—and he’s popular, too.

The election of Sadiq Khan as mayor of Lon­don created a sensation. A faithful Muslim and the son of humble Pakistani immigrants, Khan received the support of a great many non-Muslim voters, making his election a landmark in European ethnic and religious history. It is quite possible that he might in the future rise to national leadership.

Commentators on the mayoral election often suggested that such interfaith tolerance would never be manifested in Islamic countries. But such pessimists are wrong.

The world’s largest Islam­ic nation is Indonesia, where Muslims represent a large majority of a population of some 250 million. Christians make up about 10 percent of that number, and relations between the two faiths have on occasion been rocky. Matters reached their worst in the late 1990s, a time of economic crisis and the collapse of the long-standing military dictatorship. During the chaos, Christian minorities in regions like Sulawesi were subjected to ethnic cleansing and Chinese Chris­tians in major cities were targeted for violence and mass rape.