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ICC Note: As Indonesia faces growing radicalism and an upcoming presidential election in 2019, moderate Muslims have launched a new grassroots group on August 1 to promote inter-faith tolerance, mutual respect, and peace – the Said Aqil Siroj Institute in Jakarta.

08/03/2018 Indonesia (UCA News) – Moderate Muslims in Indonesia have launched a new civil society group to promote interreligious tolerance in a country where religious and ethnic sentiments are on the rise ahead of a presidential election in 2019.

More than 200 people, including religious leaders such as Jakarta’s Catholic archbishop, as well as politicians, attended the Aug. 1 launch of the Said Aqil Siroj Institute in Jakarta.

The new non-profit organization is named after a prominent Muslim cleric who now serves as chairman of Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), Indonesia’s largest Islamic organization.

“His thoughts and ideas highlighting tolerance, mutual respect, peace and willingness to work together with people from different religious and ethnic backgrounds have inspired the establishment of this institute. These are important pillars for the existence of our diverse nation,” Imdadun Rahmat, the organization’s executive director, said at the launch.

“This institute has come about because of concerns among young people about problems and challenges faced by our nation, especially the weakening of national unity as a result of segregation based on religion, ethnicity and ideology,” he said.

He said the organization would take up the same fight as similar organizations including the Jakarta-based Wahid Institute, an organization that focuses on the creation of peace and non-violence espoused by former Indonesian president Abdurrahman Wahid, who was also a former NU chairman.

“Such organizations need to expand to serve as ‘shields’ to protect our younger generation from radicalism,” he told ucanews.com.

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