By Konradus Epa
A Muslim leader has warned Catholics in Indonesia about the threat of Islamic radicalization and even imposition of sharia law.
Safi’i Anwar, executive director of the International Centre for Islam and Pluralism, told a Catholic forum on March 26 in St. Theresia Church in Jakarta that intolerance is rising.
“Indonesia is threatened by radicalism and increasing violence behalf religion. It’s different from 10 years ago when Indonesian Muslims were very tolerant and showed a smiling Islam.”
He said he opposed the concept of imposing sharia law in Indonesia as it is not an Islamic state and imposing sharia is not Islamization, but Arabization, indicated by justification of intolerance and radicalization.
“Although sharia is an Islamic identity, it was created by Muslim leaders in the Middle East in the tenth century. It is not relevant in the present context,” he said.
Indonesian Muslims, he said, base their life in wisdom of local culture which is “polite and respect to the others.“ The Middle East Muslims are the opposite, said Anwar.
Around 200 participants attended the event, held by Catholic Society Forum (FMKI) to mark the installation of new board members.
Anwar added: “They educate especially youths to study in the region, and upon returning home they impose different ideologies such as Jemaah Islamiah and Al-Qaeda.”
But they have to face strongholds of Nahdlatul Ulama and Muhammadiyah, the two largest moderate Islamic organizations in the country.
“I am optimistic that nationalism in Indonesia will prevail because most parliamentarians are nationalists,” Anwar said.
Another speaker, Father Aloysius Budi Purnomo of Semarang archdiocese, encouraged Catholics to engage in dialogue with Muslims.
“We should manage diversity via local wisdom including traditional stories and culture,” Father Purnomo said.
He also urged FMKI to create programs that touch the real life of the people and expand networking with non Catholics.