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Cablegate: Catholic-Muslim Forum -- Key Indonesian Muslim

VZCZCXRO0991
OO RUEHBC RUEHCHI RUEHCN RUEHDA RUEHDE RUEHDT RUEHGI RUEHHM RUEHJS
RUEHKUK RUEHLH RUEHPW RUEHROV
DE RUEHJA #2104 3191051
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 141051Z NOV 08
FM AMEMBASSY JAKARTA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 0658
INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS PRIORITY
RUEHROV/AMEMBASSY VATICAN PRIORITY
RUCNISL/ISLAMIC COLLECTIVE
RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 5619
RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 3294
RUEHLM/AMEMBASSY COLOMBO 1456
RUEHKA/AMEMBASSY DHAKA 1432
RUEHNE/AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI 2431
RUEHPB/AMEMBASSY PORT MORESBY 4100
RUEHTV/AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV 0243
RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO 2731
RUEHHK/AMCONSUL HONG KONG 3105
RUEHPT/AMCONSUL PERTH 1283
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 7843
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 0993
RHHJJPI/USPACOM HONOLULU HI
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC

UNCLAS JAKARTA 002104

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR EAP, EAP/MTS, EAP/MLS, DRL, DRL/AWH, DRL/IRF
NSC FOR E. PHU

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV KISL KIRF ID VT TH PP
SUBJECT: CATHOLIC-MUSLIM FORUM -- KEY INDONESIAN MUSLIM
LEADER LAUDS EVENT

REF: A. VATICAN 087
B. JAKARTA 1792 AND PREVIOUS

1. (U) SUMMARY: The Catholic-Muslim Forum held in Rome
November 2-4 promoted strong inter-religious relations, the
leader of a mass Muslim organization--with over 30 million
members--told an audience of religious and civic leaders on
November 11. Din Syamsuddin, chair of Muhammadiyah, also
spoke about initiatives he is planning to help facilitate
peace in the southern Philippines and southern Thailand. The
Forum also featured a Jewish leader from Australia who
delivered greetings in Hebrew, a positive--if rare--event in
Muslim majority Indonesia. END SUMMARY.

2. (U) Muhammadiyah Chair Syamsuddin was recently selected
to be president and moderator of the Asian Conference of
Religions for Peace (ACRP). (Note: Along with Nadhlatul
Ulama, Muhammadiyah is one of Indonesia's two mass Muslim
organizations. By most estimates, they are among the largest
Muslim organizations in the world.) DepPol/C attended a
dinner held in Jakarta on November 11 to celebrate
Syamsuddin's selection to these positions. Leaders of all
six major faiths in Indonesia--Islam, Catholicism and
Protestantism, Buddhism, Confucianism and Hinduism--addressed
the dinner, plus a Jewish scholar visiting from Australia who
delivered greetings in Hebrew. Judaism is not one of the
officially recognized religions in Muslim-dominated
Indonesia, so asking a representative of that faith to
address an important inter-religious event was a significant
goodwill gesture.

3. (U) In his remarks, Syamsuddin praised the recent
Catholic-Muslim Forum hosted by the Vatican, commenting on
its good effect in building better understanding between the
two religions. He was one of three Southeast Asian Muslim
leaders who attended the Forum. Several prominent Indonesian
Catholics also traveled with Syamsuddin, including Benny
Susetyo, Executive Secretary for the Interfaith Commission of
the Indonesian Catholic Bishops Conference. Syamsuddin's
upbeat assessment was particularly noteworthy given that in
September 2006 he had harsh remarks concerning Pope Benedict
XVI's Regensburg University statement about the Prophet
Muhammad. "Whether the Pope apologizes or not, the Islamic
community should show that Islam is a religion of
compassion," Syamsuddin said at the time.

4. (U) Syamsuddin also talked about upcoming initiatives at
interfaith peace mediation. A delegation of 15 Buddhists and
15 Muslims from southern Thailand might visit Indonesia early
next year under his good offices. Indonesian Vice President
Yusuf Kalla had hosted talks in Indonesia in September aimed
at reaching a settlement to the conflict in southern Thailand
(see Ref A).

5. (U) Secondly, Syamsuddin said five members each from the
Moro National Liberation Front (MILF) and the Moro Islamic
Liberation Front (MNLF) in the southern Philippines have been
invited for a dialogue to take place in Indonesia early next
year.
HUME

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