08/30/2007, 00.00
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Muslim intellectuals against Bashir: more emphasis on Islamic “values” rather than “law”

by Mathias Hariyadi
In a conference in Jakarta some members of the two biggest Muslim organisations in the country attack their “co-nationals fanaticism” and the idea of a caliphate: our society needs values, not Islamic norms.

Jakarta (AsiaNews) – “Muslims in Indonesia are more concerned with imposing correct Islamic dress than with promoting concrete values and Islamic morals in everyday life”. Prof Syaffi Maarif, ex president of the Muhammadiyah, the second largest Muslim organisation in the country, who maintains that the Muslim community should concentrate itself on “Islamic values and not Islamic laws”.  Tolerance, friendship and solidarity, are just some of the values to which the professor, a well known peace activist, makes reference.  

According to the academic, Indonesian Muslims tolerance towards other religions is still low and he openly criticizes the “fanaticism of some of my fellow countrymen, who concern themselves with how to dress, make friends or behave in public places in accordance with Islamic law”.

Professor Syaffi was addressing a conference focusing on beating poverty which is currently underway in Jakarta.  During sessions Prof. Azyumardi Azra, ex rectors of the capitals Islamic University underlined the importance of organisations such as Muhammadiyah and Nahdlatul Ulama (the first Indonesian Muslim organisation) in promoting with great urgency the true values of Islam in society and in combating poverty.

Among speeches during the conference many criticised the campaign being conducted by the radical leader Abu Bakar Bashir to introduce Sharia law.  “Every attempt to erect an Islamic Caliphate is illegal and we will defend national unity from every single sectarian movement” declared the NU chief for eastern Java.


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