Asia-Pacific region: interfaith dialogue

Posted on 01. Apr, 2009 in Speeches

Little is known about the Asia-Pacific Regional Interfaith Dialogue held in Yogyakarta between Indonesia and Australia back in 2004. Since then the interfaith movement has taken off most vigorously in Indonesia, a country which has constantly been stereotyped as the home of extreme Islamic fundamentalism. The initial effort barely five years ago will culminate in a planned international gathering of multifaith followers later this year in Melbourne.

A group of religious leaders comprising Christians from various denominations and Muslims, including an Islamic school principal, gathered at the Indonesian Consulate on Friday, 27 February, to present a case for worldwide religious tolerance. The forum was a joint effort of the Indonesian consulate, the Uniting Church and the Indonesian club of Victoria.

It was truly a multifaith gathering with many in attendance from very diverse backgrounds. An invitee, Mr Chap Chow, from the local Chinese community, commented that the forum was an eye-opener and wondered if the Middle East conflict could have been solved had such a movement been embraced there.

Along with the help of a team of forensic experts from Indonesia in the Victorian bushfires and the recently announced free trade agreement signed with the Association of South-East Asian Nations community, the forthcoming international interfaith parliament to be held in Melbourne will no doubt go towards strengthening the friendship between Indonesia and Australia, and more specifically, Victoria.

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