The Indonesian Consortium for Religious Studies (ICRS) in collaboration with the Dutch Embassy held an Interfaith Dialogue activity entitled Religious Freedom and Harmony in Indonesia: Hopes and Challenges on March 11th, 2020 at the Museum of Prambanan Temple Pendopo, Yogyakarta.
The main coordinator of the interfaith dialogue activity, Dr. Dicky Sofjan, explained that this activity is a forum that brings together scholars and activists in the field of religion, as well as other related parties. This discussion forum is expected to be able to re-establish the main roles and functions of religion, belief and faith.
“This interfaith dialogue activity is important because it brings together all religious communities in Yogyakarta and its surroundings,” he explained.
Dicky said that currently Indonesia has gone through a period of more than two decades of reform and democracy. However, since the change of government in 1999, religion has remained a sensitive issue for the state. Various state policies have been instituted to manage religious diversity and socio-political and cultural complexity.
Although many religious programs and interfaith initiatives have been organized to bring together religious communities, Dicky said there are still disputes and conflicts. Some of the conflicts that have arisen are related to issues of intolerance, freedom of worship, construction of places of worship, local political competition and the economy.
Meanwhile, at the same time there is an increasing trend in online religion and its various implications. To some extent, this has given rise to a strong conservatism in many religious communities. In the end, this condition contributed to the social polarization that occurred in Indonesian society.
“Through this activity, we can discuss openly together the various problems we face related to freedom and religious harmony,” he said.
The Interfaith Dialogue was also attended by King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima Zorreguieta Cerruti from the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Dutch Foreign Minister Stef Blok and Ambassador Lambert Grijns from the Royal Netherlands Embassy in Jakarta.
“The presence of the King and Queen of the Netherlands is also important because we as Indonesians are proud and want to show our religious diversity. However, we also realize that there are many challenges that we still have to go through together as representatives of the various faith communities that exist,” he said.
ICRS is a consortium of 3 universities, namely UGM, UIN Sunan Kalijaga and Duta Wacana Christian University.