"Among all the countries that Ive worked, Indonesia could be considered the most successful country in protecting and promoting tolerance and moderation," the ambassador stated in a general lecture at the University of Gadjah Mada (UGM), Yogyakarta, on Wednesday (Nov 23), according to a statement from UGM received by ANTARA News here on Thursday.
He shared several special experiences during his first visit to Indonesia a few years ago.
As a Muslim who grew up in England, he was surprised and proud to see women in Muslim dress riding motorcycles on public streets, and attend a meeting led by a woman Islam cleric at the State Palace.
These experiences are something that cannot be found in many other Muslim countries, he added.
"Maybe for you, it is a common matter to see women in headscarves riding motorcycles. But for me, it is so incredible that I instantly took a photo and sent it to my daughter. In some Muslim countries, this could cause big controversy," Malik pointed out.
He sees the condition as unique in the religious life in Indonesia which, on a larger scale, could be a potential solution to the problems of intolerance in the world.
In particular, he mentioned two characters which he observed form the culture of tolerance in Indonesia.
First, diversity has become a character of Indonesia, as a country with thousands of islands, since the beginning, unlike most countries that were initially homogeneous and began to be diverse due to migration.
Besides, "Pancasila" (a philosophical foundation of the Indonesian state) as the foundation of the state, and "Bhinneka Tunggal Ika" (Unity in Diversity) as the national motto, have deep meanings in life, he added.
"Most countries do not have a similar idea and not even have a national motto like that. That makes Indonesia special. In the UK, weve just talked about national values about three years ago and it was brought up a debate," Malik stated.
According to Malik, those uniqueness were the reasons Indonesia should be more active in talks on plurality in world forums to build a joint solution to the problems of intolerance, which continues to be an important issue from time to time.