ASIA/INDONESIA - Agreement between the Community of St.Egidio and the Islamic organization Muhammadiyah

Monday, 23 April 2012

Jakarta (Agenzia Fides) - An important bilateral agreement will be officially signed tomorrow in Jakarta between the Community of St.Egidio and the "Muhammadiyah", an imposing Islamic organization in Indonesia which has about 40 million followers, mostly in urban areas and belonging to the middle class. The agreement, in six points, touches upon themes such as dialogue and cooperation in the social and cultural field, and shall be signed by the two Presidents: Din Syamsuddin of the "Muhammadiyah" Marco Impagliazzo of the Community of St.Egidio.
The agreement assumes even greater prominence and a symbolic meaning, if one thinks that it was promoted and strongly supported by Din Syamsuddin in person, and that it falls on the centenary of the birth of the "Muhammadiyah" (1912). With this step, the Indonesian Islam reiterates and confirms its moderate, dialogic, open, pluralistic side. Syamsuddin confirms himself as leader, both at a national and international level, he shows a clear intention, supported by concrete choices, oriented to moderation and dialogue with other religious communities, with society, with the political world.
Together with the other major Indonesian Islamic organization, the "Nahdlatul Ulama", the "Muhammadiyah", is trying to isolate the Islamic extremist fringes puny (like the Islamic Defence Front) present in the Indonesian scene, which from time to time uses violence against Christians. Even if - as a source of Fides notes - locally, the "Muhammadiyah", seems to suffer, at times, a certain influence of radical Islamism, the moderate and dialogical imprint of Syamsuddin, always present at the dialogue sessions organized by the Holy See at an international level, he seems really determined.
The main activities of the "Muhammadiyah" are of a religious, educational and social nature. It has founded more than 5,700 schools in Indonesia, also attended by non-Muslim students, and 26 universities around the Indonesian provinces. It also runs numerous clinics and charities. The signing of the agreement was preceded by an interfaith seminar titled "United in diversity", which opened today in Jakarta, and intends to emphasize "the power of dialogue for a peaceful coexistence in a pluralistic and harmonious society." (PA) (Agenzia Fides 23/4/2012)