The Young Buddhist Association of Indonesia and its counterpart the Young Buddhist Association of Malaysia jointly organized an online interfaith forum earlier this month to educate young people about the dangers of radicalism and extremism and to work to a more harmonious, tolerant and inclusive society.
Organized to celebrate Indonesia’s 77th Independence Day, which was observed on August 17, the forum, titled “Say No to Radicalism and Extremism”, brought together notable humanitarian activists, as well as leaders Islamic and Buddhist communities and Buddhist monks in Indonesia. and Malaysia. Each of the participants gave lectures on the issue of building harmony and tolerance among religious communities in neighboring countries.
In their opening remarks, the Director of Buddhist Affairs and Education at the Indonesian Ministry of Religion, Dr. Supriyadi, and the President of the Indonesian Buddhist Youth Association, Gondo Wibowo Tantri, expressed their gratitude to the organizers for hosting the interreligious dialogue.
Event coordinator Billy Lukito Joeswanto of the Indonesian Buddhist Youth Association noted that the online forum was designed as a platform for Buddhists and Muslims from two allied nations to exchange ideas. and to develop courses of action to counter the growing social crisis of extremism and radicalism.
“Radicalism and extremism can be blocked by the existence of good and tolerant people, starting with action at the community level,” Billy shared with BDG. “If we remain silent and ignore this growing crisis in our societies, then radical and extremist elements will take control. The Young Buddhist Association applies the teachings of the Buddha, also known as the Dhamma, to its vision and mission to prevent radicalism and extremism from thriving.
Wawan Gunawan, an Islamic humanitarian activist and advocate for interreligious and cultural dialogue, said radicalism stems from the way people lead their religious and spiritual lives. He added that extremism is a symptom that can be found at many layers of society and is a compound of individual, religious and political perspectives.
“In the contemporary world of social media, filters are urgently needed – from the self, to the social and to the political,” Wawan explained. “Government policies in the area of religion also play an important role in creating a tolerant society that can extinguish radicalism.
“The tolerance that the people of Indonesia and Malaysia aspire to is not only a matter of respecting differences, but should also serve to highlight and recognize differences in order to foster cooperation and encourage each other in a positive way.
For example, the function of Pancasila* in Indonesia is applied by all religions. It is not part of the religion, but welcomes all religions and becomes a common point of intersection. It is important for us as a society to be aware of Pancasila and Bhinneka Tunggal Ika.”
These words were echoed by Indonesian Buddhist monk Bhante Dhirapunno, who highlighted the dangers of radicalism and emotional extremism on social media, and stressed the need to be aware and recognize the underlying patterns to avoid to create harm and suffering and to avoid eroding tolerance in social groups. and communities.
“We need to reflect on the love and compassion that is taught by all religions so as not to harm others or ourselves,” Bhante Dhirapunno stressed. “Watch your thoughts, watch your words, watch your eyes and watch what your fingers are writing on social media. By living like this, wherever we go, we leave traces of goodness and truth. Mindfulness is a process of practice. The fight for tolerance is an endless journey because there will always be people who are intolerant, but there are also people like us who will always fight for tolerance.
The general secretary of the Malaysian Buddhist Youth Association, Eow Shiang Yen, observed that religious freedom brings blessings to society as a whole. He urged the promotion of greater mutual understanding and better relations regarding differences as well as ways to manage them.
“We must have a unique and deep experience of cooperation between Indonesia and Malaysia, to combine solutions for many races and religions to prevent radicalism and violent extremism,” he said. “As the Buddha said: the Middle Way is the best solution to this problem. Neither too extreme nor too passive, this is the way to deal with extremism and radicalism.
Another speaker from Malaysia, Aizat Shamsuddin, founder and director of the Universal Muslim Community (KMU Malaysia), spoke about the role that ideological extremism plays in the radicalizing society and how extremist groups use the media social networks to spread messages and ideas of hatred and violence. .
“To overcome this problem, we need to increase our presence on social media, as it is a major source of information. We all have a role to play in our own communities. We must do our best to promote positivity, peace, compassion and kindness,” Aizat said.
He also explained that schools must offer a more holistic and integrated education system, as well as the cultivation of good relations between religions and ethnicities.
“We need to promote cultural exchanges to strengthen relationships and knowledge exchange in various fields. All of us in Indonesia and Malaysia can learn from others to avoid the dangers of radicalism and extremism.
The Indonesian Buddhist Youth Association is the main Buddhist youth organization in Indonesia. Through a belief in the Buddha’s mission of compassion, growth and liberation, the association promotes a positive way of life to develop a society based on wisdom, compassion and gratitude. The association is involved in establishing Buddhist organizations throughout the country, spreading Dharma study among young people, and leadership training.
The Malaysian Buddhist Youth Association is the main Buddhist youth organization in Malaysia and the only national Buddhist youth organization recognized by the Malaysian government. The association coordinates over 270 member organizations through 13 state liaison committees and upholds a vision and mission of spreading the Dharma through education and training.
* Pancasila is the official philosophy of the Indonesian state. It is composed of five principles: Belief in God; A just and civilized society; National unity; Democracy guided by inner wisdom in the unanimity of deliberations between representatives; and social justice for all.
** The official national motto of Indonesia, which translates to “unity in diversity”.
Indonesia Buddhist Youth Association
Indonesia Buddhist Youth Association (Facebook)
Malaysian Buddhist Youth Association
Malaysian Buddhist Youth Association 马来西亚佛教青年总会 (Facebook)
Sambut HUT RI ke-77, Association of Young Buddhists Ajak Generasi Muda Tangkal Radikalism dan Ekstremism (rri.co.id)
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