2019_05_15_Prominent Jewish Figures Warn About the Perils of Weaponizing Identity

Muslim Leader Concurs: “Overcoming White Supremacism, Antisemitism and Islamist Extremism Will Require Courage, Honesty and Compassion”

Saint Sebastian’s Church in Columbo, Sri Lanka following an attack on April 21, 2019

In the weeks following white supremacist Brenton Tarrant’s live-streaming of his brutal slaughter of Muslims at prayer in New Zealand, Jews, Muslims and Christians have all fallen victim to shocking acts of terror. In response to these tragedies, a number of prominent Jewish figures have joined Kyai Haji Yahya Cholil Staquf—General Secretary of Indonesia’s Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), the world’s largest Muslim organization—in urging religious, cultural and political elites to end the practice of weaponizing identity, which exacerbates communal hatred and short-circuits analysis of the complex phenomena that contribute to ethnic and religious violence. Continue reading full communiqué with images. . .

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2019_04_25_Calls for U.S. to Engage with Nahdlatul Ulama in the Wake of Indonesia’s Presidential Election

Professor, Policy Expert and Religious Freedom Advocate A.J. Nolte: “NU. . . represents one of the few genuinely influential, well-organized, and politically powerful voices of moderate Islam” 

President Jokowi reaching out to voters in the world’s largest Muslim-majority democracy

United States diplomats, government departments and foreign policy practitioners are being encouraged to engage with Nahdlatul Ulama (NU)—the world’s largest Muslim organization, with over 50 million followers—after NU-oriented voters from the heavily-populated island of Java, which constitutes the geographic, political and economic center of Indonesia, proved “decisive” in re-electing moderate Muslim leader Joko Widodo (Jokowi) to his second and final term in office. Writing in Christian foreign policy journal Providence, A.J. Nolte—assistant professor of politics at Regent University’s Robertson School of Government—noted how “Jokowi’s winning coalition was based almost entirely on support from areas of East and Central Java dominated by the Islamic organization Nahdlatul Ulama.”

“Indonesia may be undergoing a kind of electoral ideological sorting into three camps, whose differing views on the relationship between Islam and the state will have a huge impact on the country moving forward,” observes Nolte. Whilst the heavily-Javanese NU supports religious toleration, a second emerging bloc, which voted overwhelmingly for Jokowi’s rival Prabowo Subianto, represents “an ominous trend worth watching.” This bloc is “committed to a rigid application of political Islam in Indonesia” and consists of “two groups: West Javanese, whose version of Islam is influenced by Wahhabi teachings brought back to Indonesia from Mecca, and Malay Muslims from the so-called ‘out-islands,’ who have generally been somewhat more rigid in their orthodoxy than their Javanese counterparts for centuries.” Continue reading full communiqué with images. . .

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2019_04_17_Muslim Scholar’s Call for “Honest Discussion” Elicits Global Response

Nahdlatul Ulama General Secretary’s Appeal to “Renounce the Practice of Weaponizing Islam for Partisan Advantage” Praised for Offering a “Way Forward” in the Aftermath of Christchurch Terror Attacks

On March 25, 2019, Kyai Haji Yahya Cholil Staquf, General Secretary of the world’s largest Islamic organization—Indonesia’s Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), with over 50 million followers—responded to the brutal slaughter of 50 Muslims at prayer in Christchurch, New Zealand. Writing in The Telegraph, a prestigious newspaper with close links to Britain’s governing Conservative Party, Mr. Staquf urged people of all faiths and none to go through the “uncomfortable” process of “resolutely acknowledging the causal factors of the violence that we are seeing in so many parts of the world,” and summon the courage to ask “questions that require difficult but honest answers.” The article, entitled “To prevent another Christchurch, Islam must confront the attacks in its name that have radicalized the West,” was welcomed by policy experts, journalists, opinion leaders and government officials for encouraging discourse about a highly-fraught and complex phenomenon that threatens all humanity.

Rabbi Abraham Cooper, Associate Dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center—a human rights organization that seeks to prevent hatred, discrimination and genocidal violence—noted in the Times of Israel that, “we won’t defeat burgeoning hate by embracing soothing but dishonest political correctness. . . Muslims, Jews, and Christians should take their cue from Yahya Cholil Staquf.” Rabbi Cooper’s article, co-authored with historian Dr. Harold Brackman, examined how many commentators exploited outrage at the Christchurch massacre, and solidarity with its Muslim victims, to shut down discourse and thereby obstruct an honest public discussion of causal factors, while rabid anti-Semites promoted conspiracy theories, some of which claimed that Mossad or other Jews were responsible for the terrorist atrocity. Continue reading full communiqué with images. . .

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2019_04_10_World’s Largest Political Network Embraces Humanitarian Islam

Centrist Democrat International Adopts PKB Resolution, Signaling a Profound Shift in Global Discourse Regarding Extremism and Terror

BRUSSELS, Belgium: On April 10, 2019, the Executive Committee of Centrist Democrat International (CDI)—the world’s most extensive political network, with over 100 affiliated parties in more than 70 nations—unanimously adopted a resolution endorsing the “universal principles and aspirations” of the global Humanitarian Islam movement, and calling for the “widespread dissemination and study” of its foundational texts.

A “Resolution on acknowledging that universal human fraternity is essential to the emergence of a global civilization founded upon respect for the equal rights and dignity of every human being,” was drafted and presented to the Committee by the National Awakening Party (PKB), Indonesia’s largest Islamic political party. The resolution commends Nahdlatul Ulama—the world’s largest Muslim organization—for its “groundbreaking” role in having “first articulated the concept of universal human fraternity as a shari‘ah basis for legal equality between Muslims and non-Muslims” at its National Congress held in Situbondo, East Java, in 1984. Continue reading full communiqué with images. . .

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2019_03_25_Don’t weaponize the term Islamophobia

To prevent another Christchurch, Islam must confront the attacks in its name that have radicalised the West

YAHYA CHOLIL STAQUF    |    25 MARCH 2019

How can we prevent another atrocity like the one in Christchurch? CREDIT: REUTERS

How can we – Muslims and non-Muslims together – prevent another atrocity like the one in Christchurch? As I have watched New Zealanders of all faiths mourn, this has been the question on my mind. So far, few of the answers offered have come close to the truth.

What the massacre revealed was the need for a clear understanding of the weaponisation of ethnic, religious and political identities that is going on throughout the world. This was Brenton Tarrant’s evil aim: to contribute to a polarisation of the West – and to a parallel phenomenon in the Muslim world. His actions, which eerily resemble those of Isil and other Islamist terror groups, were calculated to intensify the hostility and suspicion that already exist towards Muslims in the West. They were also designed to elicit a response from Islamists and so encourage a cycle of retaliatory violence.

We must not let him, or anyone else, succeed. Solidarity across racial, religious, cultural and political lines to address this global crisis is the only answer. But this means resolutely acknowledging the causal factors of the violence that we are seeing in so many parts of the world. As a Muslim, this leads me to questions that require difficult but honest answers. Continue reading this article with images. . .

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2019_03_22_Japanese Communist Party Showcases Islamic Mass Movement

Official Newspaper of One of the World’s Oldest and Largest Non-Governing Communist Parties Highlights the Role of Nahdlatul Ulama in Defending Indonesia’s Democracy from Extremists

JAKARTA, Indonesia: On March 22, 2019, Red Flag (Shimbun Akahata)—the official newspaper of the Japanese Communist Party (JCP), with a distribution of 1.2 million copies—published an extensive interview with Kyai Haji Yahya Cholil Staquf, General Secretary of the world’s largest Muslim organization, Nahdlatul Ulama (NU). Entitled “Islam Needs Tenets that Reflect Contemporary Reality,” the article examines the role of the NU in defending Indonesia’s pluralistic, tolerant and multi-religious nation state from Islamist extremists motivated by obsolete and problematic elements of Islamic orthodoxy. The last in a 5-part series on Indonesia’s April, 2019 presidential and legislative elections, the interview with Mr. Staquf underscores rising concern among traditional leftist political movements about the weaponization of ethnic, religious and political identities worldwide.

Like Nahdlatul Ulama (est. 1926), JCP traces its heritage to the anti-colonialist struggle of the 1920s, and has a history of fighting for the principles of popular sovereignty, anti-sectarianism and self-determination. One of the oldest and largest non-governing Communist parties in the world, it was founded in 1922 and claims a membership of over 300,000. Anti-imperialist and anti-militarist, JCP was the only Japanese political party to actively oppose Imperial Japan’s invasion of China and its entry into World War II, and seeks to turn Japan into a non-aligned nation. The pacifist international order to which the party aspires, however, is increasingly threatened by a rising tide of ethnic and religious hatred, discrimination and violence, fueled in large part by widespread perceptions that Islam threatens non-Muslims, and is synonymous with terrorism. Continue reading full communiqué with images. . .

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2019_03_22_Nahdlatul Ulama-Based PKB Joins Centrist Democrat International

Indonesia’s Largest Islamic Political Party, PKB, to Project “Soft Power” Globally

Muhaimin Iskandar and César Rosselló at a press conference in Jakarta, displaying a document that welcomes PKB to full membership in CDI. They are flanked by Nahdlatul Ulama General Secretary and Presidential Advisor KH. Yahya Cholil Staquf (wearing a white shirt) and members of PKB’s Central Board.

JAKARTA, Indonesia: On March 22, 2019, a delegation representing the world’s largest political network—Centrist Democrat International (CDI), with over 100 affiliated parties in more than 70 nations—visited Jakarta, where they met with the Central Board of Indonesia’s largest Islamic political party. H. Muhaimin Iskandar, Chairman of the National Awakening Party (PKB) and Deputy Speaker of the People’s Consultative Assembly (MPR), greeted the delegation, headed by César Rosselló, CDI’s General Coordinator for Asia Pacific and Latin America. CDI—originally, an exclusive coalition of Christian Democrat parties—approved PKB’s accession unanimously and in record time at a meeting of its Executive Committee in Cape Verde on November 27, 2018.

Indonesia’s print and broadcast media heavily covered the event, providing widespread favorable publicity for PKB in the midst of a national election campaign. The nation’s presidential and legislative elections will be held on April 19, 2019. PKB is allied with President Joko Widodo (“Jokowi”) of Indonesia and the party controls four cabinet posts in the current Jokowi administration. The nation’s leading newspaper, Kompas, reported that PKB—the first Indonesian political party to join an international network—was swiftly granted full membership status by CDI “due to its party ideology, which is based on democracy, moderation and anti-radicalism.” Continue reading full communiqué with images. . .

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2019_02_01_World’s Largest Muslim Organization Promotes European Unity

Leader of massive, grassroots Islamic movement urges Europe’s political center to unite
“Engage in honest discourse about Islam, to end the cycle of religious supremacism, separatism and terror that has polarized European societies, and may trigger widespread civil unrest”

Portuguese Socialist MEP and Chair of the Indonesia–European Parliament Friendship Group, Ana Maria Gomes, greets KH. Yahya Cholil Staquf

EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT, BRUSSELS: On January 31 and February 1, 2019, Kyai Haji Yahya Cholil Staquf—General Secretary of Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), the world’s largest Muslim organization, and Emissary of Indonesia’s largest Islamic political party, PKB—led an official delegation to address the European Parliament’s center-left and center-right political groupings at the invitation of Portuguese Socialist Party MEP Ana Maria Gomes and the United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute (UNICRI).

Visiting in his capacity as a member of Indonesia’s Presidential Advisory Council, with a protocol rank equivalent to Minister of State, Mr. Staquf delivered a heavily-attended speech urging Europe’s centrist politicians to halt the rapidly accelerating polarization of European societies by acknowledging and addressing legitimate concerns raised by populist forces about the nexus of national and international security threats linked to Islam, terrorism and migration. Continue reading full communiqué with images. . .

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2019_01_25_Nobel Peace Prize Nomination Recognizes the Contribution of Indonesian Islam to Peace and Democracy

“A Worthy Model for the World to Emulate”
Former Muhammadiyah Chairman, Dr. Syafii Maarif:
“An Antidote to the Disease, and Civilizational Decay, Afflicting the Middle East”

H.E. José Ramos-Horta

YOGYAKARTA, Indonesia: On January 17 and 25, 2019, Gadjah Mada University (UGM)—Indonesia’s preeminent institution of higher learning—held a pair of high-profile events to accompany the launch of a global campaign to nominate the world’s largest Muslim organizations for the Nobel Peace Prize, in recognition of their unique contributions to Islamic democracy and global conflict resolution.

H.E. José Ramos-Horta—who received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1996; led East Timor’s independence movement; and served as its president from 2007 – 2012—joined UGM and an international assembly of scholars to discuss Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) and Muhammadiyah’s historic achievements and their nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize. Both groups’ contributions to Indonesian democracy played an essential role in granting independence to East Timor in 1999, following 24 years of Indonesian military occupation. Continue reading full communiqué with images. . .

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2019_01_03_Towards an Islamic Jurisprudence Suitable to Our Emerging Global Civilization

Leading Muslim Scholars Encourage the Reform of Problematic Tenets Within Islamic Orthodoxy: “Shall We Remain Silent, or Confront Tyranny?

Forum participants (photo courtesy of Sofian J. Anom)

REMBANG, Central Java, Indonesia: On January 3, 2019, one of the most respected Islamic boarding schools in Southeast Asia—PP Raudlatut Thalibin—hosted an all-day forum to examine the necessity of recontextualizing (i.e., reforming) obsolete tenets of Islamic orthodoxy that constitute the center of gravity for a wide range of Islamist movements, including ISIS, al-Qaeda, the Muslim Brotherhood and Hizb ut-Tahrir. Entitled “GP Ansor’s Nusantara Manifesto: Towards an Islamic Jurisprudence [Suitable to Our] Emerging Global Civilization,” over 70 Islamic scholars from throughout Indonesia attended the event, co-sponsored by the 5-million-member Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) young adults movement, Gerakan Pemuda Ansor, and its theological wing, Rijalul Ansor.

In his opening remarks, Rijalul Ansor Director KH. Aunullah Habib stated that, “Today, the world is facing chaos because of attempts by Muslim extremists to implement elements of fiqh [Islamic jurisprudence] that are no longer compatible with 21st century reality. The catastrophic violence and human misery that result from these attempts are most visibly on display in the Middle East but threaten the entire world, presenting each of us with a profound moral choice: shall we remain silent or follow the example of the noble prophets in confronting tyranny?” Continue reading full communiqué with images. . .

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