International Youth Celebrate Unity in Diversity at Interfaith Assembly in Indonesia

Naomi Yakawich
September 19, 2017

Youth share their experience on social media as they gather for the 2017 Global Peace Youth Interfaith Assembly

The 2017 Global Peace Youth Interfaith Assembly gathered a remarkable variety of 130 young people from Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Colombia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Mongolia and the United States in Jakarta to provide a platform for youth leadership development and interreligious dialogue. The two-day assembly was held on August 6 and 7 under the theme, “Raising Moral and Innovative Young Leaders for Peace and Development: the Key to Lasting Peace.”

Although the largest Muslim-majority nation in the world, Indonesia is also home to a great variety of religious and ethnic communities that inspired the country’s motto, Bhinneka Tunggal Ika (“Unity in Diversity”), making it a pertinent host for the Interfaith Assembly. As a country that continues to face threats from identity-based conflict, like many others around the world, it is important to explore models of collaboration amongst diverse communities like those in Indonesia.

“Indonesia now is in the process of building peace. This kind of activity is very important to really address interfaith and intercultural issues to young people.”

Participants of the Interfaith Assembly had the opportunity to discuss the role of youth in addressing identity-based conflict through interfaith partnerships and using social media as a positive contributor to peace and development in their regions.

Delegates from the Anti-Slander Society of Indonesia thoroughly broke down the mechanics of the propagation of false news in media and offered basic guidelines and tips to the young people, who are significant contributors to popular culture through their participation on social media. “Before you share, check the facts,” said Anita Wahid, a representative of the Anti-Slander Society. “If you don’t have time then do not share.”

Top: Traditional Indonesian dancers perform for the Interfaith Assembly Bottom left: Delegates visit local temples in cultural expedition Bottom right: Delegates discuss Sustainable Development Goals in perspective of interfaith collaboration

With such a wide variety of nationalities and religious backgrounds, youth who participated in the Interfaith Assembly had the enriching experience to dialogue with their peers in “Peace Circles,” discussion groups that explore practical ways interfaith collaboration can make a difference in their corresponding communities. “Indonesia now is in the process of building peace,” said Indonesian participant, Thomas. “This kind of activity is very important to really address interfaith and intercultural issues to young people.”

Youth also had the chance to visit Taman Mini Indonesia Indah, a unique estate that includes buildings representing the variety of architecture and culture of a variety of regions as well as places of worship for the many religious traditions Indonesia is home to. Participants also visited the largest mosque in Southeast Asia, the Istiqlal Mosque and the Cathedral Church built just across from it, another symbol of solidarity and harmony amidst the diversity of Indonesia.

Participants like Nadhifa was profoundly moved by her experience saying, “Through this program I realize that we are all family despite our different ethnicities, beliefs, languages, and races. We are family that should love and support one another.”

Other speakers and sponsors of the 2017 Global Peace Youth Interfaith Assembly included Inayah Wahid, the daughter of the fourth President of Indonesia, Abdurrahman Wahid, and Forum Kerukunan Umat Beragama (Interreligious Harmony Forum).

View the full gallery here.

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