Jakarta (Agenzia Fides) – Indonesian Islam is being renewed and confirming its aspects of moderation, dialogue, openness, pluralism. This is what seems to emerge as the intentions and the will of the new leaders of the two largest Islamic organizations in Indonesia, "Nahdlatul Ulama (NU)” and “Muhammadiyah."
The Muhammadiyah - which runs schools, universities, and social activities and has about 40 million followers, mainly in the urban areas and among the middle classes - from July 2 to 8 is holding its 46th Congress, also celebrating the centenary of his birth. At the top of the organization, re-elected for a second five-year term, is Din Syamsuddin, a leader who has confirmed both nationally and internationally, his clear intention supported by concrete choices and geared to moderation and dialogue with other religious communities, with society, and with the political world.
In March 2010, the NU elected the new president Agil Siradj Sais, who immediately declared his intention to follow the line drawn by the former NU leader and former Indonesian President Abdurrahman Wahid, the beloved "Gus Dur." The NU, founded in 1926, is an expression of traditional Islam, rooted especially in rural areas, and is historically more open and tolerant towards other religious minorities.
The two organizations, through their new leadership, have agreed to condemn and isolate the Islamic extremist fringes (like the Islamic Defence Front, FPI) present in Indonesia, which occasionally raise their voices and reach the headlines for some event of intimidation or violence (see Fides 30/6/2010).
Valeria Martano, head of Community of Sant'Egidio for Indonesia, contacted by Fides in Jakarta, has remarked: "This renewal-in-continuity gives good hope for a future of harmony and peace. The Muhammadiyah has chosen to precede the Congress with a 'Forum for Peace', inviting representatives of different cultures and religions from around the world, who have also attended the opening of the Congress. This is a clear sign of openness. The NU is organizing, for Fall 2010, an interfaith gathering titled 'Family of God, Family of Peoples', with the same objectives. The heart and essence of Islam in Indonesia walk on the path of dialogue." Martano added: "Extremist groups like the FPI are few, but noisy. Sometimes they find fertile ground in poor and marginalized populations. In fact, in Indonesia today, behind a strong economic growth (5.7% of GDP in first quarter 2010, ed) lies a hidden increased disparity between rich and poor, a harbinger of social unrest which at times may also include the factor of ethnic or religious identity."
According to a report from the International Crisis Group on July 6, in Indonesia "the jihadist project failed" and "the terrorist groups-jihadists are weak and broken down,” although they are still able to implement terrorist actions. (PA) (Agenzia Fides 07/07/2010)