Religious leaders, scholars and activists from around the globe ended a three-day interfaith forum in Indonesia on Aug. 16 with a message for world leaders to use a "middle path" to overcome poverty, discrimination, and extremism. The middle path refers to positive values such as goodness, tolerance, justice, solidarity, charity, and equality, which was the central theme of the 7th World Peace Forum in Jakarta on Aug.14-16 attended by about 250 people from 43 countries. Cardinal John Onaiyekan
from Ajuba in Nigeria told ucanews.com that participants wanted to encourage world leaders to fight extremism and to create an atmosphere of justice, tolerance and cooperation. He said a decade ago Nigerians were very proud of their country, calling it a model of Christian-Muslim harmony for the world. But now that image has been wrecked by terrorism, perpetrated particularly by the Boko Haram
group — with its peculiar interpretation of Islamic teaching — which has cost many lives. "The middle path is a solution to counter all forms of extremism which considers differences and other people enemies," he said. Azumardi Azra, an Indonesian Muslim scholar, said the rise of the Islamic State group, Boko Haram, the Taliban and other radical groups, along with their brutality, has contributed greatly to increased hostility to Islam and the Muslim world. "[In this case] the middle path means the Muslim community needs to speak out more clearly and loudly against radical groups using jihad to justify their violence acts," Azra said. Bishop Yohanes Harun Yuwono of Tanjungkarang, chairman of the bishops' Commission for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs said a middle way "tells us to reach out to all people so we can live in harmony." Valeria Martano representing the Community of Sant'Egidio
a Rome-based lay Catholic organization, said the Jakarta event was important as it gathered people from different countries, religions and cultures and made them look at a basic way to build interreligious dialogue and overcome identity conflict. She said the Community of Sant'Egidio works closely with Muhammadiyah, Indonesia's second biggest Islamic organization, to enhance Christian-Muslim dialogue and cooperation. "Pope Francis has asked Catholics to hold dialogues [with Muslims] through concrete action," she said. According to Simone Sinn from the Lutheran Church Council in Switzerland, the recommendations of the three-day meeting now known as the "Jakarta Message" will be presented to the United Nations in the hope that the U.N. will use it as a guideline to promote world peace.