12/27/2021, 08.00
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Jakarta: a man of dialogue will lead the Nahdlatul Ulama

by Mathias Hariyadi

Yahya Cholis Staquf was elected during the 34th national conference in Lampung, Sumatra. He is 55 years old and the son of a religious leader who was a former member of the NU and the elder brother of the Minister for Religious Affairs. Msgr Agus, a friend of Staquf who accompanied him on a visit to the Vatican, expresses his happiness. Staquf was attacked over a trip to Israel and meeting with Netanyahu. 

Jakarta (AsiaNews) - Yahya Cholis Staquf is the new president of the executive council of the Nahdlatul Ulama (Pbnu), Indonesia's most important moderate Muslim organisation with over 92 million members.

The Islamic religious leader, who in June 2018 had visited Israel and met with then Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sparking the ire of the radical faction, is 55 years old and took office on 24 December.

Originally from Rembang, in Central Java, he is the son of Mohamad Cholil Bisri, a charismatic religious leader and former member of the NU and elder brother of the current Minister for Religious Affairs Yaqut Cholil Qoumas.

A graduate of Gadjah Mada University in Yogyakarta, he did his primary and secondary education at the Al-Munawwir Islamic Boarding School, better known in Indonesia as pesantren (Islamic educational institute). His election to the chairmanship of the NU executive committee came during the 34th national conference, which was held in Lampung, Sumatra Island.

Staquf, who takes over from Prof. Said Aqil Siradj, has been a member of the Wantimpres Presidential Advisory Council since 2018 as well as holding the role of Presidential Spokesperson from 1999 to 2001, with the then Head of State Abdurrahman Wahid (Gus Dur). 

In the past, he has distinguished himself for promoting dialogue with non-Muslims, earning the appreciation of various religious figures, including Christians, such as the Archbishop of Pontianak, West Kalimantan, Msgr Agustinus Agus. The prelate brought him with him during a visit to the Vatican in 2020, where he had a constructive discussion with Cardinal Miguel Ángel Ayuso Guiuso, president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, and met briefly with Pope Francis in St Peter's Square. 

Interviewed by AsiaNews, Msgr Agus said he was "happy" that "my good friend" Staquf was the new UNPBN president and "I send him my best wishes and prayers". 

During the conference the NU members also appointed Miftachul Akhyar as supreme spiritual leader (Rais Aam) for the period 2021-2026.

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