Southeast Asian Buddhist and Muslim leaders meet

The Jakarta Post, March 3 2015

Jakarta, Indonesia -- A high-level summit of Buddhist and Muslim leaders opened in Yogyakarta on Tuesday aimed at strengthening cooperation to combat religious extremism.

Representatives from Thailand, Bangladesh, Malaysia, Sri Lanka and Indonesia agreed that good relations between followers of the two religious could be built based on openness and good communication.

“Communication and openness result in love and peace. On the other hand, [a lack of them] causes suspicion and fear,” head of the International Network of Engaged Buddhists (INEB) Harsha Kumara Navaratne said during the summit.

Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) head Din Syamsuddin said that the summit was hoped to build understanding between followers of the two religions and that violence, extremism, radicalism were the common enemies.

“The two religions are theologically different but have the same values, namely they are religions of humanity,” Din said as quoted by Antara news agency.

According to Din, Buddhists and Muslims constituted three-fifths of Southeast Asia’s population and had relatively peaceful relations despite the violence against the Rohingya Muslim minority in Myanmar, a predominantly Buddhist country.

“[The Rohingya case] needs to be resolved soon. MUI and the Indonesian Buddhist Community [Walubi] have tried to mediate,” he said.

The summit in Yogyakarta was a continuation of an event held in Bangkok last year.