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Indonesian interreligious cooperation ’improving’

Annual report says solidarity, involvement in social issues in 2010 was better

Indonesian interreligious cooperation ’improving’
Zainal Abidin Bagir (second from right) speaks at the launch of the CRCS annual report
An annual report released yesterday on religious life in Indonesia, says there has been a growth of interreligious solidarity and involvement in social issues over the past year.

“We found that solidarity and involvement of interreligious leaders and people at grassroots levels in social issues increased [in 2010],” said Zainal Abidin Bagir, executive director of the Center for Religious and Cross-cultural Studies (CRCS).

“Our annual report is not only about violations against freedom but also positive aspects of interreligious relations,” Bagir said during the report’s release at Gadjah Mada University in Jakarta.

He highlighted cooperation between the Indonesian Bishops’ Conference and several major Islamic groups, including Muhammadiyah in assisting survivors of a deadly tsunami in the Mentawai Islands and Mount Merapi eruptions in central Java as examples.

Both disasters struck in late October. The tsunami killed more than 300 people and destroyed thousands of houses, while the eruptions killed 33 people and forced more than 8,000 to flee their homes.

Some interreligious leaders also issued a joint statement criticizing the government for failing to protect its people, Bagir said. Others offered social programs to the poor, he added.

Yuni Chuzaifa from the National Commission on Violence against Women, said she was encouraged by the report.

However, although interreligious relations have improved, the politicization of religion is still increasing at both local and national levels, she warned.

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