Bali Meeting Promotes Tolerance in Indonesia

July 16, 2007

Author: Peter Gelling

Source: International Herald Tribune

JIMBARAN, Indonesia: Spiritual leaders from around the world met here in Bali on Tuesday to take a stand against religious-inspired violence and to urge other religious leaders to join them.

"We are trying to meet partners from around the globe, from all religions, who can take a leadership role and promote tolerance," said Rabbi Abraham Cooper, one of the organizers of the event and associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, a Jewish human rights group based in Los Angeles.

The conference was held amid heightened security and growing unease in the capital, Jakarta, over the sensitivity of the conference's topic. It came days after the Indonesian government refused to sign a United Nations Security Council statement condemning President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran for statements he made encouraging the destruction of Israel.

Indonesia has the world's largest Muslim population and a government that does not recognize Israel as a country or Judaism as a religion.

One of the main goals of the conference, however, was to discuss ways of challenging Ahmadinejad's statements and to release its own joint statement denouncing the Iranian president and others for denying the existence of the Holocaust. The statement, which was made available Tuesday, was signed by Abdurrahman Wahid, a former Indonesian president and a leading Islamic cleric. The conference was jointly organized by the Wiesenthal Center, the LibForAll Foundation, a U.S.-based non-governmental organization, and Wahid.