News / National / Article

Islamic Scholars Fight for Minorities

Indonesia's Islamic scholars will draft recommendations to the international community to promote the rights of minorities through tolerance, a prominent scholar said on Wednesday.

Hasyim Muzadi, chairman of the Nahdlatul Ulama National Board, or PBNU, said that the board, along with other Islamic organizations, such as Muhammadiyah, were urging a follow-up to the third International Conference of Islamic Scholars, or ICIS, held in Jakarta last year. He said that answers needed to be found to solve the problems that occur in parts of the world where Islam is a minority religion.

"We saw problems occurring in Taiwan, the Philippines and Burma, where Muslims are a minority," Hasyim said.

He was speaking at a national workshop in Jakarta involving Islamic scholars from six provinces in Indonesia, who were discussing the recommendations made at last year's conference. The six provinces are among the areas where Islam is a minority religion, such as Papua, Bali and Maluku.

Hasyim said that many scholars, who live in the country with the world's largest Muslim population, were trying to find solutions for Islamic minorities and were promoting a peaceful Islamic lifestyle. He said that there are two elements that spark conflict between the majority and the minority. "It's the government and the Muslims."

Hasyim said that some of the problems occurring in a number of countries are caused by the government's failure to pay attention to the minority. On the other hand, the minority communities were unaccommodating in their demands. Hasyim also criticized Muslims as being intolerant.

"We want Muslims to consider introspection [of their ways]," he said.

Ma'ruf Amin, chairman of the Indonesian Council of Ulema, or MUI, said that the Indonesian scholars' recommendations would cover a call for the international community to raise awareness on tolerance. He said that Indonesia could share some of its own knowledge on the issues.

The forum felt confident that the call would be heard by the international community, Hasyim said, adding that the Vatican had already considered some of the drafted recommendations.

Masykuri Abdillah, the vice secretary general of ICIS, said that Indonesia would release its recommendations in August, when the country will host an international conference to discuss the challenges that face Islam.