Muslims perform the Idul Fitri prayer in Kebumen, Central Java. (JG Photo/Yudha Baskoro)

Muslim-Buddhist Dialogue in Jakarta Offers Strategies to Improve Interreligious Relations


DECEMBER 20, 2019

Jakarta. A workshop was held in Jakarta this week to find a way to ease tension and solve conflicts between Muslim and Buddhist communities in South and Southeast Asia, attended by experts and Muslims and Buddhists from five countries in the regions.

The two-day workshop, titled "Fostering Inter- and Intra-Religious Dialogue to Prevent and Mitigate Conflicts in South and Southeast Asia," took place in the Indonesian capital on Dec. 18-19.

Participants at the workshop attempted to find solutions for three specific issues in the relations between the two religions.

The first was finding out what steps could be taken to stop the spread of hate speech in both communities.

The second was the protection of sacred sites. The workshop participants decided the best way to improve this is by encouraging both Muslims and Buddhists to respect all sacred sites. 

The third was the lack of an inclusive education system that accommodates followers of both religions, without having to divide them up into Buddhists and Muslims.

"These three issues we were focusing on [in this workshop] were the key factors suggested during our first workshop in Bangkok two years ago, which was attended by 70 religious leaders and policymakers from the region," Mohammed Abu-Nimer, a representative from the Vienna-based King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz International Center for Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue (KAICIID), said after the workshop on Thursday.

KAICIID and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) initiated the workshop and invited delegates from Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, Myanmar and Sri Lanka.

Abu-Nimer said in Southeast Asia, Muslim and Buddhist communities interact on a daily basis. 

He said KAICIID also holds similar dialogues in other regions, including ones on Muslim-Jewish relations in Europe and on Muslim-Christian relations in the Arab region.

Thursday's workshop produced five national strategic actions from each of the countries involved and two regional strategic plans from each country to be carried out in collaboration with other countries in the region.