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Religious leaders call for change at peace meeting
The Jakarta Post, , Jakarta
Religious leaders called for improved religious practices to create conducive and peaceful situations for everyone on Wednesday during a discussion to commemorate the International Day of Peace in Jakarta.
“We have to practice our religious teachings with an obligation to respect others, especially those who share the same beliefs,” Director General of Islamic Community Guidance at the Ministry of Religious Affairs, Nasaruddin Umar said.
“So don’t dare to dream of achieving peace of mind if you don’t treat others with great respect.”
At the United Nation Information Center (UNIC) discussion Nasuruddin said if some religious groups practiced violence toward others, for any reason, it meant they did not comprehend their own religious teachings.
“This could have a bad effect on the rest of that religious community, so we hope people will stop using violence,” he said.
Some Muslim hardline groups have destroyed Ahmadiyah mosques in several areas across the country this year because they refuse to recognize Ahmadiyah as part of Islam.
Thousand of Ahmadiyah followers are now in refugee camps after not only their mosques but their homes were destroyed.
Nasaruddin said the ministry supported every movement promoting peace and tolerance and suggested people start spreading peace through religious and other social events.
Vice president of the Indonesian Conference on Religion and Peace, Johannes Hariyanto told the discussion people should develop a concern toward social issues including poverty, health and law enforcement, “because peace could never be achieved without improvements in social conditions”.
“There must be something wrong with our religious practices because we tend to develop individual practices instead of creating social concerns based in religious teachings,” he said.
“Today, people tend to only be concerned with their own group of people – people of the same social status and beliefs.”
Religious communities must set examples of the relationship between religious teachings and social behaviors in their daily lives, Johannes said.
Commemorated annually on September 21, the International Day of Peace was designated by the UN in 1981 through Resolution no.55/282.
The UN asks everybody to promote peace on this day and suggests combatants in conflict areas put down their weapons and live the day in peace.
UNIC officer Adila Arief said, “We try to warn people of the need to live with differences peacefully”.
“Especially for combatants, we ask them to take a day of silence to think twice of all the damages they have caused during conflicts.
“I hope this particular day will make everybody start promoting love, peace and tolerance in their life,” he said.
However, Adila said the UN also realized that peace was strongly related to other social issues like poverty, education and health.
The UN set up the Millennium Development Goals with 189 countries around the world in 2000 to help alleviate extreme poverty, improve health conditions and provide better education.
Indonesia, along with other countries, has ratified these goals and is targeting significant improvements up to 2015, when the program ends.