Monday, March 13, 2017

INDONESIA - Saudi king meets with religious leaders and praises tolerance and coexistence

"We shared aspirations and hopes with the Saudi king. This meeting is symbolic and very important": said to Fides Archbishop Ignatius Suharyo, after the Interreligious meeting organized by the Government on the occasion of King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud’s visit to Indonesia. King Salman is visiting Indonesia for 12 days from March 1, with a delegation of 1,500 people, including 10 ministers and 25 princes.

Jesuit Fr. Magnis Suseno, also a participant at the interreligious meeting, told Fides: "First of all King Salman, with his appreciation for good relations between religions in Indonesia, showed his support to President Joko Widodo and to his non-sectarian policies which are based on social and religious coexistence". Moreover, adds Fr. Suseno, "he disappointed those who expected that his visit would give a boost to the most conservative trends of Indonesian Islam".

The Saudi King expressed appreciation to the Indonesian people, example of unity and interreligious coexistence. As Fides learns, the meeting with 28 Indonesian religious leaders, representing faiths such as Buddhism, Catholicism, Protestantism, Islam, Confucianism, also saw the participation of a Catholic delegation: Ignatius Suharyo, Archbishop of Jakarta; Antonius Subianto Bunjamin, Bishop of Bandung; Paskalis Bruno Syukur, Bishop of Bogor; Jesuit Fr. Magnis Suseno, university lecturer at Driyakarya university in Jakarta.

President Joko Widodo, organizer of the meeting, said: "All religions want to protect human rights and the happiness of the people". The President informed the king that religious leaders represent the plurality of Indonesia: "Harmony is a landmark of Indonesian society that lives unity in diversity. Harmony and mutual respect are Indonesia's contribution to peace in the world".

The king also arrived on the island of Bali, a popular tourist destination in Indonesia, for a five-day vacation. He landed in Bali, met the Catholic priest Fr. Evensius Dewantara Boli Daton, head of the Commission for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs of the Diocese of Denpasar, who greeted the king in Arabic (having studied at the Dar Comboni Intitute in Cairo and at the Pontifical Institute for Arabic and Islamic Studies in Rome). Contacted by Fides, Fr. Dewantara Boli Daton said: "King Salman seems a wise person, because he made gestures of openness and acceptance, which are very significant in the current situation of Indonesia, where some forces tend to sectarianism".

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