Indonesian Muslim groups win Peace Prize backing

Two leading Islamic organization reccommended to Nobel panel for their role in promoting tolerance and harmony
Indonesian Muslim groups win Peace Prize backing

Indonesia Muslims take part in a special morning prayer celebrating Eid al-Fitr festival in Denpasar, on Indonesia's resort island of Bali in this June 5 file photo. Religious leaders have backed a recent call for the country’s two main Islamic groups — Nahdatul Ulama and Muhammadiyah to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. (Photo by Sonny Tumbelaka/AFP)

 

The Noble Peace Prize Committee has been asked to consider awarding the coveted award to Indonesia’s two main moderate Islamic groups.

The recommendation came at a recent cultural event in the Norwegian capital organized by the Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO) and the Indonesian embassy to introduce the two Islamic organizations — Nahdatul Ulama (NU) and Muhammadiyah — to the Norwegian people.

Both groups, which boast millions of members, were praised for their efforts in upholding religious tolerance and combating extremism.

Figures representing various religious organizations at the Oslo event suggested to members of the Nobel committee that they award the Peace Prize to the Islamic groups for their contribution in making Indonesia a home for people of all religions.

The call has received backing among religious leaders in Indonesia.

According to Jesuit Father Frans Magnis Suseno, a prominent figure in interreligious dialogue who attended the event, both groups have played key roles in preventing radical movements, such as Wahhabi and Hizb ut-Tahrir from the Middle East, from gaining a foothold in Indonesia.

"Because of their existence, Muslims as a majority [in Indonesia] have never been a threat to us minority groups," Indonesian newsportal Medcom.id quoted Father Suseno as saying.

“Their presence provides a sense of security and an assurance that the values of pluralism and tolerance will be maintained and grow in Indonesia," the priest said.

Reverand Gomar Gultom, general secretary of the Union of Churches in Indonesia said both organizations present a peaceful, accommodating, tolerant and moderate form of Islam.

"They portray an Islam that respects human rights values and democracy," he told ucanews.com.

Nyoman Udayana Sangging from the Association of Indonesian Hindu Dharma said both organizations deserve global recognition.

"Their commitment [to pluralism] is not doubted," he told ucanews.com, adding that both have protected Indonesia from threats posed by radical groups.

Catholic priest and social activist Father Antonius Benny Susetyo said the two organizations are good examples in how to demonstrate the inclusive nature of a religion, embracing and bringing peace to humankind.

"They are not only a good example for Indonesia, but also an inspiration for the whole world,” said Father Susetyo.

Established in 1926, Nahdatul Ulama claims to be the largest Islamic organization in the world with 90 million members, while Muhammadiyah, established in 1912 has 50 million members.

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For these organizations to be considered for a Nobel Peace Prize their nomination would have to be formally submitted to the Nobel committee who would decide whether all nomination criteria had been met. There has not yet been a formal submission made nominating either Nahdatul Ulama or Muhammadiyah.

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