On Monday, December 14, 2020, at the Bengkel Diplomasi, Foreign Policy Community of Indonesia (FPCI), Jakarta, a Memorandum of Understanding was signed between FPCI and SETARA Institute. The MoU signing ceremony was followed by a short virtual discussion entitled "Diplomacy of Tolerance amid Strengthening Religious Populism," which was broadcast live via the FPCI YouTube channel.
Ismail Hasani, Executive Director of the SETARA Institute, as the moderator, started the discussion by bringing up the issue of uniform politics in the name of religion and morality as well as symptoms of populism, which erode the quality of democratic practices and also the plurality of society in many countries.
"Apart from being a national moral imperative, tolerance is the political capital of Indonesian diplomacy on the international stage," said Hendardi as Chairman of the SETARA Institute Management Body. He emphasized that one of Indonesia's strategic roles in the international arena lies in its strength in maintaining inter-religious tolerance and beliefs as a predominantly Muslim and democratic country in the world. Therefore, it should be society's main goal to continue to encourage the government to ensure the guarantee of freedom of religion and belief in Indonesia. He also mentioned that in the last 15 years, more than 500 houses of worship experienced disturbances. No less than 2000 incidents of violations of freedom of religion and belief occurred in Indonesia.
The discussion then continued with Dr. Dino Patti Djalal regarding his observations, which became one of the backgrounds for initiating the 1000 Abrahamic Circles peacebuilding project, which he initiated under FPCI. According to Dino, often structurally and formally, the state has implemented the foundations of good religious freedom, but conflicts are often found at the grassroots. He also emphasized that "freedom (of religion) is very important, but freedom does not produce good or futile things without respect."
In the question and answer session, Dino mentioned that one of the causes of rampant racism and discrimination at the grassroots is the inherited bigotry or negative prejudice that has been instilled from generation to generation in the family environment and social jealousy. Hendardi then added that the low literacy and understanding between religions due to the narrowing of the meeting spaces strengthens identity segregation, making it difficult to build understanding between religious communities.
The discussion ended with signing a Memorandum of Understanding as an embodiment of a cooperation plan between the two institutions engaged in pluralism, humanity, democracy, peace, human rights, and inter-religious dialogue to build a society that coexists peacefully and inclusively.
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