Jakarta (ANTARA) - Indonesian President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) calls for that ASEAN member countries, with a high religious spirit, should be able to become the anchor of world peace.

He made the statement at the 2023 ASEAN Intercultural and Interreligious Dialogue Forum (ASEAN IIDC) that was initiated by the Nahdlatul Ulama Executive Board (PBNU) along with the Indonesian Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Jakarta on Monday.

"ASEAN must become the anchor of world peace. I am sure that the ASEAN community has an increasing religious spirit," Jokowi noted.

He emphasized the need for ASEAN to become a peace anchor due to global turbulence. According to the 2023 Global Peace Index, conflicts involve 91 countries, with a death toll of 238 thousand and economic losses of US$17.5 trillion.

However, the world community is becoming less religious. The 2023 IPSOS Global Religion survey showed 29 percent agnostics and atheists out of 19,731 people from 26 countries.

"According to data from the EU Research Center, the number of physical violence incidents is also increasing," Jokowi pointed out.

He believes that the 2023 IIDC participants have a commitment to support ASEAN in becoming an example of tolerance and unity, as well as an anchor for world peace.

"ASEAN countries, including Indonesia, have succeeded in maintaining a strong tradition of tolerance in the midst of cultural and religious diversity. Indonesia is also able to maintain harmony and manage the diversity of ethnicity, culture, religion, and belief," he remarked.

Jokowi also expected the ASEAN community to become a catalyst for world peace, as well as a caring and sharing community that is not only an epicenter of growth but also an epicenter of harmony that maintains regional stability and world peace.

"Therefore, I warmly welcome the constructive role of religious and cultural leaders in ASEAN, including through this intercultural dialogue and interreligious conference," he affirmed.

He expressed hope that this forum would bring a wider mutual understanding and can become a solid foundation for building ASEAN as a center of growth and a center for world harmony.

Meanwhile, Indonesia's largest Islamic organization Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) Chairman, Yahya Cholil Staquf, stated that this event was a continuation of the Forum of Twenty (R20) held last year.

He said that the ASEAN and Indo-Pacific communities have, in fact, inherited a common civilization that has become a shared cultural heritage, with tolerance and harmony as the main characteristics.

Hence, his side initiated the 2023 IIDC Forum to start consolidating major civilizational constituencies that can encourage the growth of tolerance and peace that are expected to inspire international dynamics as a whole.

"During the ASEAN Summit, Indonesia proposed ASEAN as the epicenter of growth as a theme, so we also want to contribute with ideas to support the theme by making ASEAN as the epicenter of peace, tolerance, and harmony," he affirmed.

The event was attended by 200 participants, including 11 domestic speakers, 15 foreign speakers, and 27 delegates from ASEAN countries and invited countries, such as the United States, China, India, and Japan.

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Translator: Rangga Pandu A J, Resinta S
Editor: Anton Santoso
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