04/21/2005, 00.00
INDONESIA – VATICAN
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Indonesian Muslims believe Pope will build bridges to other religions

by Mathias Hariyadi

Jakarta (AsiaNews) – Indonesian Muslim leaders are optimistic after hearing the new Pope's message to the cardinals delivered yesterday at the end of mass in the Sistine Chapel.

Many leaders are indeed confident that Benedict XVI will follow the path of his predecessor in promoting peace and inter-faith dialogue.

Masduki Baidlowi, from Nadhlatul Ulama (Indonesia's largest Muslim organisation), hopes that "the new Pope will continue promoting a spirit of peace and harmony among [different] peoples and religions". Both "were the hallmarks of John Paul II's pontificate and are what impressed non Catholics the most".

Ulil Absar Abdalla was more restrained in his comments. The chairman of the Jaringan Islam Liberal or Liberal Muslim Network said that "time will tell as to whether this Pope will continue the work of his predecessor".

The human rights activist has never the less already noted that "the new Pontiff already realises the urgency of bringing peace and respect to all religious communities".

Moeslim Abdurrahmand, a scholar and a member of Muhammadiyah (Indonesia's second largest Muslim organisation), said he was certain that Benedict XVI "will build bridges to other religions, especially between Muslims and Christians".

"It is one of the most urgent problems," he explained, "and peace is impossible if the different religious communities do not work together."

The scholar cited John Paul II's condemnation of the Iraq war as one gesture Muslims appreciated the most.

His 1989 pastoral visit also left its mark on the consciousness of Christian and Muslim communities in the country.

"A Pope kissing the ground was an act of great humility and an example for all," Abdurrahmand said.

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