MORE DIALOGUE BETWEEN CHRISTIANS AND MUSLIMS IN THE WORLD’S BIGGEST ISLAMIC COUNTRY. A MEMORANDUM OF UNDERSTANDING SIGNED BETWEEN THE COMMUNITY OF SANT’EGIDIO AND THE MUHAMMADDIYAH, ONE OF THE WORLD’S LARGEST ISLAMIC ORGANIZATIONS, ON THE OCCASION OF THE ITALIAN GOVERNMENT’S OFFICIAL VISIT TO JAKHARTA, REPRESENTS A TRUE STEP OF CONCILIATION. WORLD MEETING FOR INTERRELIGIOUS PEACE AND DIALOGUE WILL TAKE PLACE IN SARAJEVO (FROM SEPTEMBER 9 TO 11, 2012).
How is possible to overcome a decade of clashes, to prevent retaliation and the burning of churches and mosques, to recreate a way of living together and disproving the arguments of those who say the world must be divided into ethnic islands? We are now commemorating twenty years since the siege of Sarajevo and of the war in Bosnia, during which the international community worked to defend co-existence, leading to the first ethnic division in modern-day Europe.
The path of dialogue as an active strategy, as a non-violent and intelligent weapon, the key to a grass-roots diplomacy – and also, in the best of cases, official diplomacy – and as a strategy of preventative peace. Seeking remedy from war and violence when they occur takes an ever growing and untenable human toll.
The Community of Sant’Egidio’s strategy for peace starts in Indonesia, the world’s largest Muslim country. In the realm of Foreign Minister Giulio Terzi’s official mission, a conference of dialogue was held and a protocol of understanding was signed between the Community of Sant’Egidio and one of the world’s most numerous Muslim organizations, the Muhammaddiyah.
The agreement, signed by the president of the Community of Sant’Egidio, Marco Impagliazzo, and the president of the Muhammaddiyah, Din Syamsuddin, calls for cooperation between the two side “in the field of solidarity, inter-religious dialogue, the promotion of a culture of tolerance and co-existence, the solution of conflicts, the search for peace and humanitarian aid in the case of natural disasters.”ce e in aiuti umanitari in caso di catastrofi naturali".
This cooperation, which by virtue of the agreement can be further broadened, is the result of the annual meetings of dialogue organized by the Community of Sant’Egidio in the “Spirit of Assisi”, which made it possible to weave a network of friendship and convergence with representatives of different religious worlds. It was in this context that relations were developed with Indonesian Islam, which despite its majority standing, has accepted the principle of pluralism and democratic debate, contributing to the interesting experiment of Indonesia’s multiple groups living together.
The Community of Sant’Egidio, together with civil Indonesian organizations and members of parliament, has worked actively for a reduction of the use of capital punishment, pushing for a moratorium on executions leading up to abolition, as called for in the U.N. resolutions approved by the General Assembly in 2007, 2008 and 2010 in New York.
The Community of Sant’Egidio has been entrenched for years in several regions of the countries, with communities in 16 cities involved in initiatives of solidarity with the poor and with children in its Schools of Peace, as well as numerous activities on behalf of the elderly, leper colonies and the homeless. It has also been active for a long time in a program of long-distance adoptions and in dialogue with different social and religious components of Indonesian society.
AThe signing of the Memorandum was attended by representatives of the Muhammaddiyah and the Community of Sant’Egidio, coming from several different Indonesian cities as well as members of other religious communities – Buddhist, Confucian and Hindu – and the Indonesian government.
The event opened the possibility of making a meaningful contribution to building and protecting a climate of living together between religious communities and thwarting episodes of intolerance that occur from time to time while at the same time creating the condition for effective cooperation between religious communities and a society that is truly a place of “living together”. A concrete example in defense of Christian minorities and all social and religious minorities, which may reveal itself a blueprint for other countries as well.