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catallaxy in technical exile

The other Wahid

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More hope for the future of Islam from Indonesia:

Yenny Wahid has a smile that could melt a Hershey bar at 100 yards. Her sunny disposition is all the more remarkable because Ms. Wahid is on what may be the world’s most difficult mission right now: She’s a prominent Muslim (and a woman at that) who speaks out against terror and the hijacking of her religion by ideologues who twist it to their own political ends …

“The real battle for the hearts and minds of Muslims is happening in Indonesia, not anywhere else. And that’s why the world should focus on Indonesia and help.”

Think of it as a potential domino whose fall would be felt far beyond Asia. “It’s big enough to destabilize the region,” Ms. Wahid notes. But “imagine if Indonesia became a hotbed for terrorism, or a source for people to get martyrs from. We’ve got enough people to provide an army of terrorists if we’re not careful.”

At present, Ms. Wahid calls that a “worst-case, doomsday scenario,” and she is probably correct, given Indonesia’s history of moderate, syncretic Islam, with elements from the region’s Hindu and Buddhist past. While there have been demonstrations there over the Danish cartoons that lampooned the prophet Muhammad, they have generally involved only few hundred people. By contrast, Ms. Wahid points out, a December rally she helped organize under the banner of “Islam for Peace” attracted some 12,000 marchers.

At the head of that crowd, riding in a wheelchair alongside Ms. Wahid, was her father, Abdurrahman Wahid, the respected and beloved Islamic scholar who headed Indonesia’s largest Muslim cultural organization, Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), before becoming the first president of newly democratic Indonesia from 1999 to 2001 …

She is active in the NU’s political wing, the National Awakening Party, and an adviser to Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. The job most dear to her heart, however, is running the Wahid Foundation–named after her father–which works to promote, in the words of its Web site, “democratic reform, religious pluralism, multiculturalism and tolerance amongst Muslims” and reflects “a universal Islam [that] desires justice and prosperity for all.” …

For a true definition of martyrdom, she points to the sacrifice of Riyanto, a young man dispatched with other members of the Nahdlatul Ulama youth militia during Christmas several years ago to guard churches threatened with attacks. When he discovered a bomb outside a church, he tried to throw it out of the way of the crowds and was killed when it blew up. Ms. Wahid and others mark the anniversary of his death every year. “We always tell this message: This is the real case of martyrdom. That’s the way to defend religion, not by killing others but by defending others’ rights to practice their religion.”

Link to the Wahid Institute here.


Written by Admin

March 7, 2006 at 3:10 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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