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Peace Education

Peace Festival Planned in Indonesia

Indonesia-2009-01-14-Peace Festival Planned in Indonesia

Dr. Adhyaksa Dault, State Minister for Youth & Sports, along with Prof. Dr. Din Syamsuddin, Chairman of both Muhammadiyah (the second largest Islamic organization in Indonesia) announced on January 14 plans for a peace festival in Jakarta. They were joined by international representatives, government officials, diplomats, and religious leaders from all major faith traditions.

With the sound of a gong, releasing of a new GPF Indonesia theme song, and setting dozens of doves to flight, Wednesday's event heralded the beginning of months of community service and networking which will culminate in a large peace festival.

Six ministers from the national government, one state minister, and the governor of Jakarta serve on the Board of Advisers for Indonesian program.

Dr. Makarim Wibisono, a senior Indonesian diplomat and the former Permanent Representative of the Republic of Indonesia to the United Nations, was unable to be present because of the crisis in the Middle East.

However, a message read on his behalf by Prof. Dr. Payaman Simanjuntak, former Director General of the Department of Manpower and Co-Chairman for the Global Peace Festival-Indonesia, highlighted one of the unique aspects of the upcoming event. "We will invite Islamic scholars and leaders from around the world to Indonesia to discuss and dialogue on the theme of Islam for World Peace."

Indonesia is the most populous Muslim-majority nation in the world, with more than 240 million people; 86 percent are Muslim. Yet, there is no reference to Islam or special treatment given Muslims in the constitution. The founding fathers of this nation decided not to make Indonesia an Islamic state for fear that non-Muslims may feel that they are second-class citizens.

This issue was hotly debated at the time of independence in 1945. But when the constitution was drafted, the Islamic leaders who were the majority and had the legitimate power to implement Shariah law showed self-restraint, thinking more about other religions than of themselves.

This may make this country unique among Muslim nations. Thus, the International Leadership Conference may be a forum for Islamic leaders. In Indonesia, Islam has a distinctly Asian aroma.

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