By Alison Lesley
“YOGYAKARTA STATEMENT” – RESPONDING TO INTERRELIGIOUS TENSIONS
As reported in The Jakarta Post, the Muslim and Buddhist leaders of Southeast Asia and South Asia released the Yogyakarta Statement to refute the “use of Islam and Buddha in the politics of discrimination and violence.” As a result of the “Overcoming Extremism and Advancing Peace with Justice” meeting, which drew leaders from Buddhism and Islam to Indonesia, the Yogyakarta Statement was released Thursday, March 5. The Sri Lanka Council of Religions for Peace President, Bellanwila Wimalaratana Anunayake Thera, was there to speak as a representative of the Buddhist community in Sri Lanka at the Borobudur temple in Magelang. He said that they reject such abuse and pledge to counter extremist religious interpretations and actions with our authentic primary narratives of peace. He went on to point out the similarities between Islam and Buddhist teachings, including ideals of peace and compassion for all of mankind. The two religions not only respect human life, but the dignity of it as well, hoping to “ensure basic human rights without discriminating between race, color, language or religion.”
The event was organized by the Indonesian Ulema Council and the Council of Buddhist Communities. The event was sponsored by the International Forum of Buddhist-Muslim Relations. They feel the event was of utmost importance due to tensions rising between the two religions in South and Southeast Asia.
Chandra Musaffar, the president of International Movement for a Just World, said, “If we want peace and justice, it is very important for Buddhists and Muslims to come together because these are two major world religions.” He added that they plan to use social and alternative media to boost positive messaging for the two religions.
The chairman for the Indonesian Ulema Council said that extremism primarily developed through religious misunderstandings, hoping that the leaders of religious communities would spread the Yogyakarta Statement in their communities.
From the “Yagyakarta Statement,” March 5, 2015:
We reject the abuse of our religions in support of discrimination and violence. Buddhism and Islam have been misused by some for their own political purposes to fuel prejudice and stereotyping and to incite discrimination and violence. We categorically reject such abuse and pledge to counter extremist religious interpretations and actions with our authentic primary narratives of peace.
This article was first published in the March 17, 2015 posting of World Religion News.