Indonesian president in call for religious tolerance - news from ekklesia

By staff writers
December 6, 2004

Indonesian president in call for religious tolerance

-6/12/04

A regional inter-faith forum has opened in Indonesia with a call by Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono for all religions to rise up and be a force of peace against terrorism, and for religious tolerance to be taught.

He also suggested widening his country's religious curriculum so that students can learn about various religions.

Indonesia has long been the focus of human rights groups concerned about religious violence.

Between 1999 and 2001 anti-Christian violence in the area around Poso claimed some 2000 lives. It ended with the Malino Peace Accord in December 2001, but sporadic violence has continued ever since.

A church congregation in Indonesia was sprayed with bullets as they were singing hymns on Easter Saturday, following a number of similar attacks.

The general secretary of the World Council of Churches, Rev. Dr Samuel Kobia, is amongst those who has called on the Indonesian Government to take immediate steps to put an end to the violence in the Malukus islands where much of the violence has taken place.

There have however been glimmers of hope. Churches in the region have also consistently striven for peace and reconciliation between religious communities and have promoted inter-religious dialogue. Last month, Rinaldy Damanik, a Christian peacemaker imprisoned in Indonesia on what many believe were false charges, walked free a year earlier than his original release date after Muslim advocates paved the way for his early release.

Indonesia and Australia who are co-sponsoring the forum and who have both suffered at the hands of religious extremists pledged to work more closely together to get to the heart of the matter.

President Yudhoyono said: "In the end, the forces of light, reason and hope must overpower the forces of darkness, despair and violence."

Mr Alexander Downer, Australian Foreign Minister, said: "A terrible perversion of religion, with a violent face, threatens moderate believers and moderate states in both the East and West."

President Yudhoyono, who came into power in October, proposed for the first time that the religious curriculum in Indonesia should be widened to allow students to learn about various religions.

He spoke of the need to lift people from narrow-mindedness, prejudice and intolerance.

But tolerance, he emphasised, does not happen naturally and has to be taught.

ASEAN and Pacific Rim countries appear to be broadening their anti-terror strategy to include dialogue and religious persuasion to drown out militants who preach violence.

Their governments are also keen to foster better understanding between the Muslim and non-Muslim world.

In the capital Jakarta, another religious dialogue which opened its doors to fringe Islamic groups like Hizbut Tahrir - which does not believe Islam and democracy can mix.

Mr Muhammad Ismail Yusanto, Chairman of Hizbut Tahrir Islamic Organisation, said: "We should live in a good system, in a good law and we believe that good system should come from good source, that is God. So we believe Syariah is a good system."

Indonesia has the world's largest Muslim populations.

Indonesian president in call for religious tolerance

-6/12/04

A regional inter-faith forum has opened in Indonesia with a call by Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono for all religions to rise up and be a force of peace against terrorism, and for religious tolerance to be taught.

He also suggested widening his country's religious curriculum so that students can learn about various religions.

Indonesia has long been the focus of human rights groups concerned about religious violence.

Between 1999 and 2001 anti-Christian violence in the area around Poso claimed some 2000 lives. It ended with the Malino Peace Accord in December 2001, but sporadic violence has continued ever since.

A church congregation in Indonesia was sprayed with bullets as they were singing hymns on Easter Saturday, following a number of similar attacks.

The general secretary of the World Council of Churches, Rev. Dr Samuel Kobia, is amongst those who has called on the Indonesian Government to take immediate steps to put an end to the violence in the Malukus islands where much of the violence has taken place.

There have however been glimmers of hope. Churches in the region have also consistently striven for peace and reconciliation between religious communities and have promoted inter-religious dialogue. Last month, Rinaldy Damanik, a Christian peacemaker imprisoned in Indonesia on what many believe were false charges, walked free a year earlier than his original release date after Muslim advocates paved the way for his early release.

Indonesia and Australia who are co-sponsoring the forum and who have both suffered at the hands of religious extremists pledged to work more closely together to get to the heart of the matter.

President Yudhoyono said: "In the end, the forces of light, reason and hope must overpower the forces of darkness, despair and violence."

Mr Alexander Downer, Australian Foreign Minister, said: "A terrible perversion of religion, with a violent face, threatens moderate believers and moderate states in both the East and West."

President Yudhoyono, who came into power in October, proposed for the first time that the religious curriculum in Indonesia should be widened to allow students to learn about various religions.

He spoke of the need to lift people from narrow-mindedness, prejudice and intolerance.

But tolerance, he emphasised, does not happen naturally and has to be taught.

ASEAN and Pacific Rim countries appear to be broadening their anti-terror strategy to include dialogue and religious persuasion to drown out militants who preach violence.

Their governments are also keen to foster better understanding between the Muslim and non-Muslim world.

In the capital Jakarta, another religious dialogue which opened its doors to fringe Islamic groups like Hizbut Tahrir - which does not believe Islam and democracy can mix.

Mr Muhammad Ismail Yusanto, Chairman of Hizbut Tahrir Islamic Organisation, said: "We should live in a good system, in a good law and we believe that good system should come from good source, that is God. So we believe Syariah is a good system."

Indonesia has the world's largest Muslim populations.

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