Sunday, 1 March 2015

Muslims re-launch “pluralism and respect for minorities” in Indonesia

            The importance of values such as pluralism, respect for minorities, tolerance, dialogue, unity among believers of different faiths: these were some of the key words heard during the Indonesian Muslim Congress, held in recent days in Yogyakarta; the event brought together Indonesia’s principal Muslim organizations, such as Muhammadiyah, Nahdlatul Ulama and the Council of Indonesian Ulema, to reflect on Islam in and beyond Indonesia. 
            Speakers included Muslim religious leaders, scholars and academics as well as government ministers, civil servants and officials, and prominent persons including the President of Indonesia, Joko Widodo, who said: “Indonesia is a moderate nation, and we live with reciprocal respect among believers”.
            The Congress, held every five years, reiterated that Indonesian Islam could serve as a model, at the international level, to present a “harmonious society” in which Muslims live and work peacefully side by side with believers of other religions.
            Din Syamsuddin, leader of Muhammadiyah, said “pluralism is very good, since it presents shades of difference, as well as shades of similarity”. Syamsuddin expressed the hope that “differences will never divide Indonesian Muslims” and that the different believers “will never have prejudice towards differences”.
            According to the Indonesian Minister for Religious Affairs, Lukman Hakim Saifuddin, who addressed the assembly, “our Congress can serve as a guide to see how interreligious harmony can be possible among the global challenges of our day”. At the national level the minister reiterated “the guaranteed constitutional right of Indonesians of whatever religion, culture or ethnic origin to practice their religion in freedom and peace”. Beyond the borders, he added: “the rest of the world can learn from the example of pluralism that we live in Indonesia”, recalling the guiding principle “unity in diversity”, pivot of national harmony in a country characterized by citizens of numerous different ethnic origins, cultures and religions. (Source: Agenzia Fides 19/2/2015)

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