Christians have united with Muslim scholars in calling for an end to hate and the politicization of Islam at a major faith gathering in Indonesia.
The Nusantara Statement calls upon faith leaders worldwide to work together for peace, equality and the protection of human dignity.
Among the Christians signing the declaration were Johnnie Moore, founder of the Kairos Company, and Archbishop Joseph D’Souza, president of the All India Christian Council.
It reads: ‘We call upon people of goodwill of every faith and nation to join in building a global consensus to prevent the political weaponization of Islam, whether by Muslims or non-Muslims, and to curtail the spread of communal hatred by fostering the emergence of a truly just and harmonious world order, founded upon respect for the equal rights and dignity of every human being.’
The statement was issued at the Second Global Unity Forum in Yogyakarta, Indonesia this week, hosted by moderate Islamic organisation Nahdlatul Ulama and attended by faith leaders from over 20 countries.
Archbishop D’Souza welcomed the statement, saying that the weaponization of Islam as well as Hinduism and Christianity ‘has led to hate, violence and division’.
‘And as it usually happens, the ones who suffer the most are the poor, marginalized and the outcastes. This must end,’ he said.
He continued: ‘Every major world religion can agree on these two things: every human life is equal and has inherent dignity, and all violence is evil and not from God.
‘These ideas, captured in the Nusantara Statement, are essential for a truly pluralistic society that acknowledges the uniqueness and identity of other faiths and provides the space for multifaith cooperation and dialogue. In the end, the vision is for religion to be a blessing to the world and not a curse.’
While Islam’s birthplace is in the Middle East, Archbishop D’Souza said it was ‘logical’ that the statement emerged from Indonesia, the world’s most populous country, which he said ‘has historically represented the best of Islam’.
Nahdlatul Ulama was founded by late Indonesian President Abdurrahman Wahid and aims, among other things, to promote a tolerant and inclusive Islam.
During his lifetime, President Wahid received the Magsaysay Award and the Top Honor Prize by the World Peace Prize Awarding Council for his work in building democracy in Indonesia and promoting peace and inter-religious cooperation.
He also received the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s prestigious ‘medal of valor’ for his work promoting peaceful coexistence between religious communities.
Rev Moore, a fellow Wiesenthal Center honoree, said he was ‘honored’ to sign his name on the statement.
He added: ‘There is a new spirit of friendship and cooperation emerging among the most influential leaders of the world’s largest religious communities in the active promotion of peaceful coexistence, in unrelenting opposition to extremism and with a determination to make the world a better place for our children.
‘It is always a privilege as a Christian leader to stand in solidarity with those who promote peace among the world’s other religions and to overtly and fearlessly defy those who aim to use religion as a means of promoting violence.’