07/12/2005, 00.00
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In Indonesia, Muslim leaders express support for Pope Benedict XVI's appeal against terrorism

by Mathias Hariyadi


Jakarta (AsiaNews) – "Every religious leader should subscribe to statements like the one made by Pope Benedict XVI," said Azyumardi Azra, rector of the State Islamic University of Jakarta, home to thousands of young Muslim students from around Indonesia.

Speaking to AsiaNews, he said that he believed "that the Holy Father highlighted a very fundamental principle of any religious confession, namely that no religion has teachings that can be reconciled with violence".

According to Azyumardi, the essence of the Pope's appeal is universally accepted since it gives "voice to the spirit of friendship, togetherness, and repentance, something that every religion should do to those who commit wrongdoings."

He condemned however those actions of vandalism that, in the aftermath of the London bombings, have been perpetrated against British mosques.

"This violence and this kind of actions will never be a good solution. Let the police do their job as best as they can and let also Muslim Britons have their life secured and live peacefully," he said.

Solahuddin Wahid, better known as Gus Solah, and one of Indonesia's most popular Muslim leaders, added his voice to the Pope's Sunday appeal. 

"May the hearts of the terrorists be touched by Islam's teachings," he said "for among Islam's teachings there is the injunction to be good. No religion, not even Islam, teaches violence," he stressed.

In an interview with AsiaNews, Mr Wahid—whose brother is the former Indonesian president and current Nadhlatul Ulaama (Indonesia's largest Muslim organisation) chairman Abdurrahman 'Gus Dur' Wahid—said that "it must be clear that these aggressors do not represent the entire Muslim world. Islam never teaches violence or professes hatred towards other religions".

"Like other religions, Islam endorses the spirit of togetherness and mutual respect among people. So, I don't believe that these terrorists –even if they were Muslim—express any religious teachings but rather political ones," he explained.

In his view, a terrorist group like al-Qaeda should not be considered a Muslim organisation.

"Their religious beliefs might be Islamic," he said, "but their way of implementing Islamic teachings tends to be an extremist deviation. The mistake lies not in the religious teachings themselves, but in how they are applied, in how they are politically manipulated, and in whose interests this is done." 

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Gus Dur against fundamentalist threat in Indonesia
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