The organisation of Asian Youth Day (AYD) in Indonesia was a big challenge. Over the last few months, the country saw a sharp increase in acts of intolerance against religious minorities. “Indonesia and its Muslims have a responsibility for the success of this event,” one young Muslim said. Young Asian Catholics and the Muslims exchanged directly on the third day. “This meeting means that our tolerance is not a silent tolerance," a volunteer said.
Yogyakarta (AsiaNews) – More than a hundred volunteers from moderate Muslim organisations contributed to the success of the 7th Asian Youth Day (Yogyakarta 2-6 August), which was attended by more 2,000 young people from various Asian countries.
The four-day event also had an important interfaith component, contributing to dialogue and peaceful coexistence in the country. Participants attended many meetings on coexistence and the shared values of the various religions. For their part, the Muslim volunteers eagerly contributed to the gathering, including among other things helping out in the area of security.
Centred on the theme ‘Joyful Asian Youth! Living the Gospel in Multicultural Asia’, the gathering represented a major challenge given’s Indonesia’s current situation. In fact, the world’s most populous Muslim country has seen a sharp increase in acts of intolerance against religious minorities.
The threat to peaceful coexistence and Indonesia’s pluralist tradition by some radical Islamic movements has contributed to rising social tensions.
In view of this, "Indonesia and its Muslims have a responsibility for the success of this event,” had said Rifqi Fairuz, one of the Muslim volunteers ahead of the AYD.
"We Muslim volunteers are willing to dedicate our time as 'learning companions' to AYD participants,” he added. “We represent various Muslim organisations such as Nahdlatul Ulama and Muhammadiyah.” The latter are Indonesia’s most important moderate Islamic associations.
"Many [of the volunteers] are students from Islamic universities in Yogyakarta, [. . .] whilst others are from the local pesantren (Islamic boarding schools). The AYD is a good opportunity for interfaith and intercultural exchanges so that diversity in Asia is not eroded by exclusivism.”
The main exchange between Catholics and Muslims took place on the third day centred on the topic of ‘Unity in Diversity’ at a session called ‘Exposition’.
Participants also split up in small groups and visited 25 places of interest in Yogyakarta. Muslim volunteers guided them and provided security.
During the session, young Muslims were invited to share their views about Islam in Indonesia. "This meeting has meant that our tolerance is not a silent tolerance," Fairuz said. (M.H.)