The Words of the Kittel Family
Dr. Adhyaksa Dault, State Minister for Youth and Sports, along with Prof. Dr. Din Syamsuddin, Chairman of both Muhammadiyah (the second largest Islamic organization in Indonesia) and the Global Peace Festival (GPF) Steering Committee, launched the GPF 2009 in Jakarta on January 14. They were joined by international representatives, government officials, diplomats, and religious leaders from all major faith traditions.
With the sound of a gong, releasing of a new GPF Indonesia theme song, and setting dozens of doves to flight, Wednesday's event heralded the beginning of four months of community service and networking which will culminate in the main peace festival scheduled for May 10, 2009 at Monas, a park in the center of Jakarta. It is expected to draw a huge crowd.
So far, six ministers from the national government, one state minister, and the governor of Jakarta are on the Board of Advisers for Indonesian program. "This is amazing," said Dr. Su Thye Teh, the director of the GPF in Malaysia.
Comparing the level of engagement and ownership from Indonesians, Dr. Teh observed, "The foundation for a successful program here in Jakarta is so much stronger, especially because of the high-level officials who are really committed to make this event successful."
Dr. Makarim Wibisono, a senior Indonesian diplomat and the former Permanent Representative of the Republic of Indonesia to the United Nations, was unable to be present because of the crisis in the Middle East.
However, a message read on his behalf by Prof. Dr. Payaman Simanjuntak, former Director General of the Department of Manpower and Co-Chairman for GPF Indonesia, highlighted one of the unique aspects of the May event. "We will invite Islamic scholars and leaders from around the world to Indonesia to discuss and dialogue on the theme, Islam for World Peace."
Indonesia is the most populous Muslim-majority nation in the world, with more than 240 million people; 86 percent are Muslim. Yet, there is no reference to Islam or special treatment given Muslims in the constitution. The founding fathers of this nation decided not to make Indonesia an Islamic state for fear that non-Muslims may feel that they are second-class citizens.
This issue was hotly debated at the time of independence in 1945. But when the constitution was drafted, the Islamic leaders who were the majority and had the legitimate power to implement Shariah law showed self-restraint, thinking more about others religions than of themselves.
This may make this country unique among Muslim nations. Thus, the International Leadership Conference, a key component of GPF, will use this forum in May to hold a summit of Islamic leaders.
In Indonesia, Islam has a distinctly Asian aroma.