INDONESIA: In an effort to strengthen cultural richness and promote understanding among diverse communities, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is actively encouraging cross-religious and cultural dialogue programs.
The initiative aims to combat intolerance, and discrimination, and promote respect and dialogue between cultures in the region.
Deputy Secretary General for ASEAN Politics and Security, Matheus Michael Tene, emphasized the need to bolster interreligious and intercultural dialogue programs during an official statement in Jakarta on Tuesday (14 Nov).
Tene expressed regret over the increasing acts of intolerance and discrimination based on religion or belief within the ASEAN region.
“The ASEAN region recognizes pluralism and has established racial equality and freedom of belief as constitutional legal rights. However, in recent years, the social order of pluralistic societies has been hit in many places,” Tene stated.
To address these challenges, the Ministry of Law and Human Rights of the Republic of Indonesia, in collaboration with the Leimena Institute, organized the Cross-Cultural Religious Literacy Conference in Jakarta on the same day.
The conference, featuring 30 prominent speakers from both within and outside the country, aimed to address the rise in intolerance and discrimination by promoting a deeper understanding of diverse religious and cultural backgrounds.
Tene highlighted the importance of encouraging dialogue and understanding between cultures to protect minorities, combat hate speech, and uphold freedom of opinion and expression. He underlined the significance of such initiatives in preserving the social fabric of pluralistic societies.
Meanwhile, Matius Ho, the Executive Director of the Leimena Institute – a non-profit institution that serves as an independent research body reflecting the development of church diversity in Indonesia today – stated that the cross-cultural religious literacy approach aligns with the ASEAN Community strategy for the post-2025 vision towards ASEAN 2045.
He revealed that the program held in Indonesia has garnered international interest, with countries like South Africa, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, the Netherlands, the United States, and Vietnam expressing interest in implementing similar initiatives.
The cross-cultural religious literacy program, which has been running for two years, focuses on promoting respect for diversity and upholding human dignity.
Ho emphasized that the program goes beyond mere tolerance, encouraging individuals to develop competence and collaborate with people of different religions.
The International Conference on Cross-Cultural Religious Literacy, held on 13-14 November 2023, commemorated the 75th anniversary of World Human Rights Day, celebrated on 10 December.