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The Nobel laureate will also be suggesting Nahdlatul Ulama and Muhammadiyah for the Zayed Award for Human Fraternity
Timor Leste President Jose Ramos Horta (left) meeting Nahdlatul Ulama chairman Yahya Cholil Staquf in Jakarta on July 20. (Photo courtesy Nahdlatul Ulama)
Timor-Leste President Jose Ramos-Horta has said he will be nominating two moderate Indonesian Muslim organizations for the Nobel Peace Prize.
Ramos-Horta, himself a Nobel peace laureate, said two Muslim groups in Indonesia–Nahdlatul Ulama and Muhammadiyah–deserve international recognition for their contribution to promoting tolerance in the world’s most populous Muslim-majority country.
The Timor-Leste president made the remarks while visiting the Nahdlatul Ulama headquarters in Jakarta on July 20, as part of a week-long visit to Indonesia.
“I will also propose these two organizations for another very prestigious award, namely the Zayed Award for Human Fraternity,” he added.
The international award was established to mark the historic meeting of Pope Francis and the grand imam of Al-Azhar, Ahmad At-Tayyeb, in February 2019 in Abu Dhabi.
Ramos-Horta is a member of the judging committee for this year’s Zayed Award. Thanking him, Nahdlatul Ulama Chairman Yahya Cholil Staquf said: “This is an honor for all of us.”
Jesuit Father Franz Magnis-Suseno, professor emeritus at the Driyarkara School of Philosophy in Jakarta, told UCA News that he fully supports Ramos-Horta’s initiative.
The priest, who promotes interfaith dialogue, said he had written to the Nobel Peace Committee in 2019 proposing the names of both organizations.
“I think these two organizations are very important in showing how Indonesia as a Muslim-majority country in the world can be a tolerant country and maintain Pancasila [the state philosophy],” he said, alluding to the secular ideology of the Indonesian state.
Father Magnis-Suseno said maintaining a consistent policy of tolerance while overcoming various challenges in Indonesia’s history, including efforts by extremist groups to disrupt peace, deserves international recognition.
“It is hard to imagine that Indonesia can survive with its Pancasila, without the existence of these two organizations,” the German-born priest said.
Established in 1926, Nahdlatul Ulama is widely known for its appreciation of pluralism and the banning of the term “infidel” to describe non-Muslims. The group has maintained good relations with minority groups, including Catholics.
Its current chairman, Staquf, who assumed charge last year, met Pope Francis in the Vatican in 2020.
On June 9, the organization signed a pact with the Community of Sant’Egidio, an Italian Catholic lay group, to promote interfaith peace and humanitarian work.
Muhammadiyah, founded in 1912 by Ahmad Dahlan, a Muslim cleric, is Indonesia’s oldest Islamic organization devoted to education, health, and social activities.
It runs more than 5,000 primary and secondary schools, as well as over 175 universities in Indonesia. The organization stresses the need to return to the Quran and the exemplary conduct of the Prophet Muhammad.
In October last year, its general secretary Abdul Mu’ti was a speaker at a meeting on religions and education at the Vatican, which was also attended by the pope.
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