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Jakarta Post

Indonesia can inspire other Muslim countries in promoting tolerance: Obama

  • Marguerite Afra Sapiie
    Marguerite Afra Sapiie

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Sat, July 1, 2017   /   07:10 pm
Indonesia can inspire other Muslim countries in promoting tolerance: Obama Former US president Barack Obama delivers his speech in the 4th Indonesian Diaspora Congress in Jakarta on July 1, 2017. (JP/Dhoni Setiawan)

​​​​Former US president Barack Obama has said that Indonesia, with its Bhinneka Tunggal Ika (Unity in Diversity) principles, could inspire other Muslim countries in promoting tolerance and moderation.

In his keynote speech for the 4th Indonesian Diaspora Congress in Jakarta on Saturday, Obama underlined that Indonesia's spirit of tolerance has been embodied in its constitution and symbolized by mosques, churches, temples and shrines located next to each other, and people living alongside one another in peace and harmony. 

He also took the example of the Borobudur Buddhist sanctuary and Prambanan Hindu temple, which still exist and have been preserved for such a long time even though the ancient temples are located in Indonesia, where more than 80 percent of its population follows Islam.

"[Bhinneka Tunggal Ika] values have to be cultivated and nurtured. Young people have to embrace them. We have to fight for those values against those who promote intolerance. And that is important part of Indonesia's future," Obama told the audience.

"If people do not show respect and tolerance, eventually you have war and conflict [...] because not everybody will agree on how to practice a religion," Obama said, adding that humanity would not go far if people could not respect each other's differences.

Opening the congress was part of Obama's agenda during his visit to Indonesia, a country where he spent four years of his childhood in the late 1960s in the then-sleepy capital of Jakarta. The former president came for a 10-day holiday with his wife and daughters.

The 2017 Indonesian Diaspora Congress, initiated by Indonesia Diaspora Network Global (IDNG), was enjoyed by some 9,000 participants, including Indonesian diasporas from more than 55 countries. 

The opening ceremony was also attended by Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi, House of Representatives Speaker Setya Novanto, National Police chief Gen. Tito Karnavian and the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) patron Megawati Soekarnoputri. (dmr)