Moderate Islam practiced in Indonesia strengthens democracy

Moderate Islam practiced in Indonesia strengthens democracy

President Joko Widodo (Jokowi, number two from the left in the front row) along with a number of world heads of state who attended the Arab Islamic American Summit in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Sunday (May 21, 2017). (ANTARA/Presidential Secretariat)

Such emotions can later emerge as new seeds of extremism and radicalism."
Jakarta (ANTARA News) - As leaders of the worlds most populous Muslim country, President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) and Vice President M. Jusuf Kalla were recently invited to speak at separate international meetings on Islam.

The head of state attended an Arab Islamic American Summit organized by the Saudi Arabian Government in Riyadh on May 20, while the vice president delivered a general lecture themed "Islam Middle Path: Indonesias Experience" at the Oxford Center for Islamic Studies of Oxford University in Oxford City, England, on May 18.

The Riyadh Summit was also attended by leaders from Muslim-majority countries, Saudi Arabian King Salman Abdulaziz Al-Saud, and US President Donald Trump to outline new commitments to combating global terrorism.

While speaking for five minutes before the Saudi King and other leaders, Jokowi urged western nations, including the US, to not associate Islam with terrorism.

Indonesia is optimistic of decoupling the image of Islam from terrorism to counter Islamophobia in the West.

Jokowi believed that the summit held significance in terms of spreading the message of partnership between Islamic countries and the US as well as eliminating the perception that the US views Islam as an enemy.

More importantly, the summit must be able to increase cooperation in combating terrorism and at the same time spread the message of peace across the world.

In the fight against radicalism, Indonesia has suggested to adopt religious and cultural approaches, as history has proven that weapons and military forces are inadequate to cope with terrorism.

The nation believes in the importance of balancing hard and soft power approaches that can be applied through religion and culture.

According to Jokowi, the two approaches will help to change the erroneous thought process for the better.

"For the de-radicalization program, for instance, Indonesian authorities involve communities and families, including the kin of former terror convicts as well as community organizations," he noted.

In a bid to counter radicalization, the authorities are also inviting young citizens who have several followers on social media to spread the message of peace.

"We also involve two largest Islamic organizations in our country -- Muhammadiyah and Nahdlatul Ulama -- that continue to promote a peaceful and tolerant Islam," Jokowi noted.

The messages of peace must be promoted instead of those of violence, since every violent act will lead to other similar deeds.

"The world is angry and grieving to see the victims of terrorist attacks in various parts of the world, such as France, Belgium, the US, Australia, and other countries," Jokowi remarked.

The world should also be highly concerned about the rise in more casualties due to conflict and terrorist acts in some countries, such as Iraq, Yemen, Syria, and Libya.

With Muslims not only being the most-affected victims, terrorism and radicalism are also causing millions of people to flee their countries in search of a better life, and millions of young people are losing hope of a better future.

"This condition makes young people frustrated and angry. Such emotions can later emerge as new seeds of extremism and radicalism," the president said.

At the conclusion of his speech, President Jokowi outlined some strategies. Firstly, all Muslims in the world must unite to enhance Islamic brotherhood, considering it is the key to successfully combating terrorism.

Secondly, cooperation on combating terrorism and radicalism must be increased, including through the exchange of intelligence information, strategies to handle foreign terrorist fighters, and capacity building programs.

"All sources of funding and its flows must be stopped. We all know how much funding goes to the grassroots in several countries in the context of spreading extremist and radical ideologies," President Jokowi emphasized.

Thirdly, efforts to tackle the root cause of the problem must be prioritized by ending inequality and injustice and strengthening economic empowerment.

"Lastly, I hope that each of us has the courage to be part of the solution instead of being part of the problem in the efforts to counter terrorism. Each of us must be part of the global peace-making efforts," President Jokowi noted.

In the meantime, Trump in a major speech in Saudi Arabia urged Islamic nations to take the lead in combating radicalization.

"Drive them out of this earth," he said.

Meanwhile, Vice President Kalla shed light on tolerant and moderate Islam practiced in Indonesia while addressing some 150 students and academicians in Oxford.

He explained that Islam came to Indonesia with peace and was spread through trade and not through coercion and war.

Hence, Islam in Indonesia has developed peacefully. In the eighth and ninth century, the spread of Islam was integrated with the local culture and wisdom.

"Thus, moderate Islam is practiced in Indonesia," he explained.

Moderate Islam in Indonesia has become a strong foundation for the harmonious growth of democracy and Islam to serve as references for the international community to understand that they can coexist.

Despite the fact that 88 percent of Indonesias population of over 250 million people are Muslims, it does not make it an Islamic nation, but a democratic country that upholds Pancasila as its state ideology.

"The foundation of our country (Indonesia) is Pancasila, which places the One Supreme God as the first principle. Although 88 percent of the countrys population is Muslim, Indonesia is not an Islamic nation," he emphasized.

In line with the principle of its motto, Bhinneka Tunggal Ika, or Unity in Diversity, Indonesia has promoted diversity that upholds tolerance and peace among several groups in the country.

He emphasized that social inequality and misunderstanding of true Islamic teachings were two main causes of the growth of radicalism and intolerance.

Touching on the issue of the Jakarta gubernatorial election and the detention of Basuki Tjahaja Purnama (Ahok), Kalla emphasized that discrimination played no part in the dynamics of the situation, instead it demonstrated a form of democracy and a proof that the legal process was rolling without the intervention of any party.