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Leadership Conference in Jakarta Draws Moderate Muslim Activists

The Global Peace Leadership Conference in Jakarta on Saturday April 10 drew around 200 very engaged participants, many of them from diverse Muslim NGOs and civic organizations. The event was jointly organized by Global Peace Festival Foundation (GPFF) and the Indonesian Conference on Religion and Peace (ICRP). It marked the start of preparations for the Southeast Asia Global Peace Festival 2010 to be held in Jakarta in October.

Dr. Musdah Mulia, chairperson of ICRP and organizing chairperson of the festival in October, said that the Global Peace Festival was animated by the idea that the global family must be based on “a culture of heart, a culture of true love.”

It is significant that Indonesia, the country with the largest Muslim population in the world, is not an Islamic state she told participants. Instead its founders had formed the country around philosophical principles expressed in five propositions known as Pancasila. This was important as it has allowed Indonesia to flourish as a religiously diverse society.

Dr. Mulia was for many years a leader within Nahdlatul Ulama, the Muslim social organization with some 50 million members that had been led for years by the former president Abdurrahman Wahid. She was a leader in the group’s work with young women.

She has campaigned for legal reforms, including a ban on polygamy and raising the legal marriage age for girls from 16 to 19 years, to improve the position of women in Indonesia. In 2007 she was recognized by the U.S. State Department when she was given the International Women of Courage Award. She was also Woman of the Year in Italy in 2009.

Dr. Hyun Jin Moon, international chairman of GPFF, said that the guiding vision of the festival, One Family Under God, is about “raising owners who can take responsibility for their nations.” He explained the three aspects of GPFF’s work – interfaith, family and service, telling the audience that festivals had been held in over 30 countries in the past three years working with partners from a wide range of sectors.

Then the 2010 regional GPF for Southeast Asia and the Pacific was officially inaugurated with the help of the Deputy Governor of the Jakarta region, Margani Mustar. Welcoming GPFF, he stressed what a multi-cultural place Jakarta is. “Unity in diversity” is the national motto, he said. He told participants that the October Festival would draw leaders in peacebuilding from throughout Asia and beyond. The inauguration was sealed by GPF partners sounding a large gong five times, once for each of the five principles of Pancasila.

Jakarta Deputy Governor Margani joins leaders in inaugurating the SE Asia GPF 2010. GPF Chairman Dr. Hyun Jin Moon meets with Jakarta Governor Fauzi Bowo in his office about plans for the SE Asia GPF 2010. Deputy Governor Margani explained that he had been sent by the governor who was unable to attend due to a scheduling conflict. Dr. Moon and a GPFF team had visited Governor Fauzi Bowo at his office the previous day. The governor pledged his practical support for the Festival in October.

Sessions addressed faith and peace, the value of service in peacebuilding, and introduced the vision, principles and values of GPFF. Among the speakers was Ms. Inayah Abdurrahman Wahid, the daughter of the former president, who spoke about creating win-win partnerships.

Dr, Charles Phillips, president of Service for Peace International, presented extensive evidence of the positive effects of service work on the volunteers themselves. Mrs Dwi Rubiyanti Kholifah, country representative of the Asian Muslim Action Network, presented case study of an initiative to deal with fear and mistrust between Muslim and Christian women in Poso after violent clashes between the two communities.

In closing the conference, Prof. Dr. Djohan Effendi, founder of ICRP, told participants that in the arena of interfaith dialogue “tolerance is not enough.” “We need to recognize a global ethic based on the golden rule, and prevent religious conflict from threatening the ethical foundation of this world,” he said.

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