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Building Interfaith Bridges of Peace in Jakarta

Indonesia-2011-01-27-Building Interfaith Bridges of Peace in Jakarta

Jakarta, Indonesia - In order to support the World Interfaith Harmony Week, the Universal Peace Federation in collaboration with The Wahid Institute, the Indonesian Conference for Religion and Peace, and the IPMI Business School organized an interfaith conference on the theme “Building Bridges of Peace through Interfaith Leadership.” The conference theme struck a chord with the sentiment of the people of Indonesia, and from the early morning of January 27, the conference hall was filled more than 140 dignitaries representing all walks of life.

Mr. Chandra Alamsyah, Academic Director of IPMI Business School, welcomed all the guests and expressed his hope that this conference will contribute to peace in the world, especially in Indonesia. Mr. Michele Zaccheo, Director of the United Nations Information Center Jakarta, enlightened the audience about the UN Resolution 65/5, which declares the first week of February of each year as the World Interfaith Harmony Week promoting peace, tolerance, and mutual understanding among the world’s religions. Mr. Zaccheo lauded Indonesia as a “hero of interfaith harmony” and an example to the rest of the world. Mrs. Ursula McLackland, Secretary General of UPF-Asia, introduced the UPF Principles of Peace as the foundation for interfaith cooperation and renewed the call of the UPF Founder, Dr. Sun Myung Moon, for an interreligious council within the structure of the UN. She also encouraged the establishment of peace councils from local and district to national level as tools of peaceful conflict resolution.

The speakers representing the various religions unanimously called for peace and harmony among all the religious believers. Dr. H. Abdul Mu’ti, Secretary of the Central Board of Muhammadiyah, emphasized that interfaith dialogue and cooperation must be reflected in our words and deeds. Romo Benny Susetyo from the Catholic Church mentioned that interfaith dialogue cannot flourish when people are closed-minded and believe their religion is best; he expressed his satisfaction that Catholics have become open towards other religions.

The Opening Session was concluded by the remarks from two government representatives. Prof. Dr. Agus Sartono, Deputy Minister for Education and Religion of the Coordinating Ministry for People’s Welfare, praised the UPF Interfaith Leadership Conference as a contribution to interfaith harmony in Indonesia. He reminded us that the real challenge is how to implement our religious values in our daily lives. Mrs. Kusuma Habir, Director of Public Diplomacy for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, expressed on behalf of Mr. Andri Hadi, the director general of her department, her Ministry’s support for interfaith cooperation as part of its peace policy in response to global terrorism, especially in Indonesia. She stressed the important role that the mass media can play in building interfaith harmony.

The Buddhist representative, Mr. Henry Gunawan, emphasized the importance of being able to listen to others as a foundation for harmonious relations, and Mr. K.S. Arsana from the Hindu faith defined the spirit of peace with the words ‘heart, humility, humanity and harmony.' Mr. Harbans Singh from the Inter-Religious Organization in Singapore, espoused the Sikh view of God as Truth. The audience fully agreed with the speaker that though God has many names, there is only one God.

Dr. Payaman Simanjuntak, Member of UPF-Indonesia Advisory Board, summed up the day’s discussions with his observation that while pluralism is the beauty of life, we have exploited pluralism in a way that causes conflict. He asked all participants to take the message of peace from this conference to their communities and help build a world of peace.

The highlight of the program was the appointment of 26 new Ambassadors for Peace, who returned home with deep inspiration to fulfill the vision of the founding fathers of Indonesia enshrined in the constitution of this great nation: Bhinneka Tunggal Ika (Unity in Diversity).

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