Muslim groups in Indonesia caution India over Islamophobia, call for interfaith dialogue


A person holds up a handmade poster while attending a gathering on June 10, 2022 at Tehran University to protest remarks about the Prophet Muhammad made by a top official of India's ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). - AFP

JAKARTA, June 12 (Jakarta Post/ANN): Muslim groups in Indonesia are calling for India to be careful and to not condone Islamophobia while urging interfaith dialogue amid the recent controversy over offhand remarks by members of India’s ruling party that appeared to target Islam.

Earlier this week, Indonesia joined the chorus of Muslim majority countries condemning politicians from India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) whose remarks were deemed to have insulted the Prophet Muhammad.

BJP national spokesperson Nupur Sharma reportedly made the controversial remarks during a recently televised debate. Separately, the BJP’s chief spokesperson Naveen Kumar Jindal also reportedly uploaded a social media post about Islam that was later deleted.

Muhammadiyah secretary-general Abdul Mu’ti said that Indonesia’s second largest Muslim organization lauded the government for condemning the two BJP politicians’ derogatory remarks about Islam.

However, it also urged that significant steps be taken at the international level.

“The statements by the two BJP politicians are against the anti-Islamophobia declaration endorsed by the United Nations,” Mu’ti told The Jakarta Post on Thursday.

Mu’ti went on to say that India should not condone Islamophobia and urged the ruling regime take significant steps to prevent “primordial actions” that could lead to further divisions.

Meanwhile, Nahdlatul Ulama chairman Yahya Cholil Staquf called the BJP politicians’ moves “improper” and that the party should be held responsible for the actions of its politicians.

The leader of the largest Muslim organization said the incident should be a lesson to all religious groups because it was neither the first nor the last time that a group was targeted for its beliefs.

He underlined that any group could become either victims or perpetrators of intolerance at different points in the history of interfaith relations.

“We need honest dialogue that lead to universal consensus on the norms of interreligious relations and the common values that are held by different groups so we can live together in peace and harmony,” Yahya told the Post.

The Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) released a statement earlier that condemned the BJP politicians’ remarks, saying that they should be focusing on finding solutions instead of creating conflicts that fueled hate against Islam.

“The MUI view the BJP spokespeople’s statements as irresponsible, insensitive, [and] improper, as well as causing discomfort and offending Muslims in the world who respect the Prophet Muhammad,” MUI deputy chairman of foreign relations Sudarnoto Abdul Hakim said in the statement. -- The Jakarta Post/ANN

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