Y20 youth delegates visit the Istiqlal Mosque in Jakarta on July 19, 2022. (JG Photo/Jayanty Nada Shofa)

Y20 Up Close Indonesia's Symbol of Religious Tolerance


JULY 21, 2022

Jakarta. It was a sunny day in Jakarta when the Y20 youth delegates on Tuesday went on a tour around the Istiqlal Mosque and the Jakarta Cathedral — two adjacent places of worship that have been heralded as Indonesia's symbol of religious tolerance.

The tour began with a trip to the Istiqlal with delegates split into four groups according to their tracks. The tourist guide showed them around Istiqlal, which is known to be Southeast Asia's largest mosque. Even demonstrating the bedug — a drum used to signal mosque prayer time. One of the delegates also had a chance to try to beat the instrument.

All groups then gathered at the mosque grounds before visiting Kelompok Bermain Istiqlal — the early education school under Madrasah Istiqlal Jakarta. Teachers and students cheered as soon as the youth delegates arrived. They enthusiastically waved little flags that represented the youth representatives' countries. 

The cathedral was the next stop. Delegates walked through the Tunnel of Friendship, a 28.3 meter-long underground tunnel that connects the mosque and the cathedral. They then entered the cathedral and took a look at its majestic interior.

Y20 youth delegates take a picture in front of the Jakarta Cathedral on July 19, 2022. (JG Photo/Jayanty Nada Shofa)
Y20 youth delegates take a picture in front of the Jakarta Cathedral on July 19, 2022. (JG Photo/Jayanty Nada Shofa)

Two places of worship, two different religious communities, yet side-by-side in harmony and connected by the Tunnel of Friendship — also known as the Silaturahmi Tunnel. And it was this underground tunnel that impressed UK's Y20 head delegate Mohammad Karim the most.

"The Silaturahmi Tunnel is the perfect epitome of this relationship between the mosque and the church, the brotherhood, the unity, and collective diversity as a strength, which is really, really important," Karim told the Jakarta Globe during the tour.

Earlier that day, the grand imam of Istiqlal Nasaruddin Umar and Ignatius Cardinal Suharyo Hardjoatmodjo gave their welcoming remarks at the mosque before the Y20 youth delegates.

"You are all here in one of Indonesia's symbols of diversity," Nasaruddin said.

Cardinal Suharyo added, "perhaps you are wondering why the representative of the Catholic community is welcoming you here in this beautiful mosque. It is to show that we as part of different religious communities live in harmony."