Catholics 'should work with moderates'

Intolerance on the rise must be countered with 'solidarity and tolerance'

Konradus Epa, Jakarta, Indonesia

May 23, 2011

A young Muslim has called on members of the Association of Catholic Graduates and Intellectuals in Indonesia (ISKA) to cooperate with other religious followers to improve tolerance in the predominantly Muslim country.

According to Zuhairi Misrawi,34, executive director of the Moderate Muslim Society (MMS) and a member of Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), incidence of intolerance in the country increased 42 percent last year.

“ISKA should approach other religious followers, particularly the moderate Muslim groups, and also plan concrete action together with them. For instance, building churches and mosques,” he said.

He was speaking to around 50 members of ISKA and guests attending a May 20 meeting organized with the theme “Nationalism versus Radicalism” by ISKA in the hall of the bishops’ building in Jakarta to observe National Awakening Day.

Misrawi said a dialogue developed by late former president Abdurrahman Wahid and late Father Yosef Bilyarta Mangunwijaya should be continued.

He later praised the live-in programs organized in Islamic boarding schools by Catholic youths in several parts of the country. “I am happy and welcome such programs. It is a concrete dialogue,” he said, adding that nuns running a hospital in Sumenep, East Java, served patients who are mostly Islamic clergymen.

Another speaker, Paulus Wirutomo, said: "Tolerance itself is not enough. The cooperation between the Catholic Church and NU and Muhammadiyah should include tolerance and solidarity,” said the Catholic sociologist and professor of the Faculty of Social and Political Science at University of Indonesia.

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