Bahai News - Indonesian religious leaders appeal for calm
Friday September 28, 1:34 PM
Indonesian religious leaders appeal for calm amid anti-US
JAKARTA, Sept 28 (AFP) - Indonesia's top religious leaders Friday condemned
anti-US threats by extremist groups in the wake of the terrorist attacks in
the United States.
The leaders, including the head of the largest Muslim organisation the
Nahdlatul Ulama, said "illegal actions" could spark violence between
different faiths in Indonesia.
There have been daily protests outside the US embassy against any American
plans to attack Afghanistan, where Washington's chief terror suspect Osama
bin Laden is believed hiding.
Several militant Muslim groups have threatened to drive out citizens of
countries which support any US attack.
Last Sunday six militant groups checked five hotels in Solo city on Java
island for Americans in a "sweep" aimed at forcibly evicting them from the
country. No US citizens were found.
"We request all religious leaders and public figures not to use the
aftermath of the September 11 tragedy to create a situation where it appears
that there is confrontation between the particular religions," said a
statement signed by 24 leaders of all main faiths.
Among them were Hasyim Muzadi, head of the Nahdlatul Ulama which has 40
million members; the Catholic archbishop of Jakarta, Julius Cardinal
Darmaatmaja; Buddhist leader Bhikhu Sukhemothera; Baha'i leader Rudi Soraya,
several Baptist and Protestant leaders, a Hindu leader and other prominent
The leaders strongly condemned the terrorist attacks in New York and
Washington, which killed at least 6,000 people, and expressed support for
the fight against terrorism.
But they urged the United States not to attack Afghanistan and not to target
bin Laden without clear evidence.
"Our plea to other religious leaders is to handle correctly the extremist
elements within their own religious movements so that dialogue between
different religions and beliefs in this country can still be developed...
confrontation, whether based on religion or otherwise, will only give rise
to further disturbances and violence," the statement said.
The statement, released at a press conference, made no mention of any
But Muzadi told reporters it amounted to a condemnation of "sweeping"
directed against Americans and others.
The US State Department on Wednesday told Americans to consider leaving the
country and authorised non-essential diplomatic staff to leave. There are
some 10,000 Americans in Indonesia.
An estimated 4,000 people have died in three years of sporadic fighting
between Muslims and Christians in the Maluku islands.
Indonesia is the world's most populous Muslim country but the state ideology
Pancasila prescribes religious tolerance.
©Copyright 2001, Agence France-Presse
Page last updated/revised 102101
Return to the Bahá'í Association's Main Web Page