On 3 December 2015, the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue (HD), along with its partner, the Habibie Center (THC) and the Muluku Tifa Peace Institute (ITDM), successfully held a seminar in Jakarta, Indonesia on interfaith dialogue.
The seminar was organised as part of the two-year project led by HD on ‘Building Mediation Capacity for Interfaith Institutions’, which seeks to strengthen the role of government-supported interfaith mediation structures to resolve and prevent religious conflict in Ambon, Maluku.
The December seminar had two objectives:
• To present the findings and progress of the project to date; and,
• To prompt discussions to help enrich the current findings and shape a strategy for the second year of the project.
The seminar brought together governmental, academic and civil society representatives. It provided a forum for them to share their challenges and to listen to constructive criticism from their counterparts.
Set against a national context of growing concern about rising religious conflict in the country, the seminar’s topics included how to maintain religious harmony, the roles of religious leaders and interfaith institutions in facilitating dialogue during conflict, as well as public participation in dialogue and in sustaining peace. The seminar generated a number of compelling questions on, and criticism of, the Government’s current policy.
One of the issues addressed in the seminar was how to bridge the gap between members of key state-backed interfaith institutions (such as the Forum for Religious Harmony – FKUB), who are mainly drawn from the elite, and community members at grassroots level.
All participants appreciated the fresh ideas generated by the pilot project, and shared their high expectations regarding the sustainability and continuity of the initiative in Ambon. This project is seen as a means to support local government initiatives to establish Ambon as a peace laboratory.
This project is funded by the European Union and the New Zealand Embassy, to which HD, THC and ITDM wish to express their gratitude.