Organization Promotes Religious Pluralism

January 22, 2006

Source: The Boston Globe

On January 22, 2006 The Boston Globe reported, "With 200 million residents, Indonesia is the world's largest Muslim nation, and [Abdurrahman] Wahid -- popularly known as Gus Dur -- was not only its first democratically elected president but the longtime chairman of its largest Muslim organization, the 35 million-member Nadhlatul Ulama. A revered religious scholar who studied in Cairo and Baghdad, Wahid is a longtime champion of a moderate, progressive, and nonpolitical Islam. As a result, he has frequently clashed with militant fundamentalists whose growing influence, fueled by Arab/Wahhabi oil money, is undermining Indonesia's traditional religious pluralism. Last year, Wahid spearheaded the opposition to a series of 11 reactionary fatwas, or religious decrees, issued by a high-ranking council of Indonesian Muslim clerics. The fatwas condemned any Islamic teaching based on liberalism and secularism, banned interfaith prayers not led by a Muslim, and even prohibited the answering of 'amen' to a non-Muslim prayer. Wahid and LibForAll promptly organized a group of religious leaders into an 'Alliance Toward a Civil Society,' which denounced the fatwas as unworthy of decent Muslims and improper under Indonesia's constitution."