TRANSCRIPT OPENING REMARKS PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF INDONESIA
AT THE 1ST CONFERENCE OF INTERNATIONAL FORUM FOR ISLAMIST PARLIAMENTARIAN
HOTEL MILLENIUM, 19 JANUARY 2007
Assalammualaikum warrahmatulahi wabarrakatuh
The honorable chairman of the People Consultative Assembly, Bapak Hidayat Nur Wahid,
The honorable speaker of the House of People of Representative, Bapak Agung Laksono,
Mr. Luthfi Hasan Ishaaq, Secretary General of the IFIP,
Dr. Abdul Majid Minarsa, Chairman of the Executive Committee of the IFIP,
Excellencies, Ministers, Ambassadors, Speakers,
Distinguished Guest, Brothers and Sisters,
Let us begin with praising Allah SWT, for it is under His blessings and grace that we are able to gather here this morning at the First Conference of International Forum for Islamist Parliamentarian. I commend the organizers, for their foresight in initiating this important conference.
Indonesia is indeed delighted and proud, to host the First Conference of IFIP. To all our friends from 28 countries around the world who have just arrived, I bid you a very warm welcome to Jakarta. I do hope, you will enjoy our brotherly at hospitality.
This conference is unique and strategic because the participants are parliamentarians, politicians, and policy makers, who have the access to policy formulation, and possess all the power, quality and capacity needed, to change the fate of the Muslim world.
In the next few days, you will discuss important topics such as human rights, interfaith dialogue, economic empowerment, political reform, democracy, and so forth. These themes reflect the fact that you are very much eager to address the real issues of our world, which is precisely what the <i>Ummah</i> needs to do.
Indeed, the most important thing that the <i>Ummah</i> can do is to engage, to expand networks, to cooperate, to promote mutual enlightement, and to share knowledge and experiences with one another. In my view, the Ummah has not done this very intensively, and perhaps this is the reason why the Ummah has not developed its true potentials.
Remember: 14 centuries of Islamic history have taught us that Islam is at its best when the <i>Ummah</i> was able to confront the issues of their time intelligently and think ahead of their time.
As we all know, Islam spread so rapidly from Mecca and Madina in the 7th century to the rest of Arabia and into Europe. By the 13th century, Islam became the world’s greatest civilization, with Baghdad as its center, much more advanced than Europe which was still in the dark age.
The <i>Ummah</i> is in that period was deeply spiritual but what made them special was that they were knowledge-driven.
They developed paper mill, and printed almost a million books. They successfully built a strong culture of excellence. They opened the first university. They developed a vast scientific literature, and developed a body of knowledge in philosophy, arts, architecture, mathematics, chemistry, geography, medicine, optics, astronomy, agriculture, navigation, and others.
They even found and translated the great works of great Greek thinkers such as Plato and Aristotle, which later became the basis of Rennaisance in the Western World when European people rediscovered this from the Muslims.
But unfortunately, the Islamic civilization experienced a decline in the middle of 13th century, particularly after the Mongol invasion and annihilation of Baghdad in 1258, and partly due to growing internal weaknesses. Since then, despite the subsequent rise of the Ottoman Empire until the early 20th century, the <i>Ummah</i> struggled hard to reclaim its proper status and position in the world affairs.
Europe found Enlightenment and basked in the Rennaissance era, but the <i>Ummah</i> became stagnant. Europe started to produce Galileo, Copernicus, Newton, Watt, Edison, and Einstein, and overtook the Islamic world in science, technology and literature.
It was the European who started the Industrial Revolution, the revolution of modern warfare, the transportation revolution, and other development in technology. In all this, the muslim world was left behind, and even victimized and colonized.
Where is the <i>Ummah</i> today?
Well, the story is long and winding. The Ummah is now one billion strong.
But the landscape of the Islamic world is rather eclectic. There are areas of prosperity, peace and progress in the Islamic world, where some muslims enjoy a high standard of living and become major players in the world economy.
But, there are also pockets of poverty, conflicts, and ignorance. We see our brothers and sisters trapped in prolonged bloody conflicts : in Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, Sudan, Lebanon, Palestine.
We also face the reality that a considerable portion of the muslim world are still lagging behind in terms of worldwide socio-economic progress.
Consider the statistics :
Of the world’s 30 biggest economies, there only 3 muslim majority countries Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Indonesia.
There is no muslim country in the top 10 or top 20 traders.
In the world’s human development index, you will find no muslim country in the top 10, top 20 or top 30 best performing nations. Expand the list to the top 50, and you will find 5 muslim societies–Brunei, Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar and United Arab Emirates–listed between rank 33 and 47.
If you look at the top 20 most competitive countries, there is no single muslim country in the list. I guess it is true that some Muslims are concerned more about their survival in the age of harsh competition, rather than to increase their competitivess as tools to survival.
Let me remind you also that according to UNICEF, there are still over 4,3 million children under 5 in OIC countries die each year from preventable disease and malnutrition.
Another sad reality every 30 minutes, an Afghan woman dies of childbirth. In the African sub-region, 1 out 15 pregnancies ends in death. Compare to the global average, which is 1 death out of 74 pregnancies, that situation deserves our utmost attention.
Our children also still face a harsh and difficult life. In 17 OIC countries, primary school education is less than 60%.
We are also deeply concerned that there are around 8 million adult HIV cases in African OIC countries.
I cite these statistics to remind ask that we have lots of work to do to improve the lots of the Ummah.
We must therefore pool Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlements. To help each other and advance the Ummah into the third millennium. And we must realize that the fate of the Ummah is entitely up to the Ummah it self, who now stands on an important threshold in the advance of human civilization
So herein lies the challenges for us.
First, the Ummah of today must not be left behind, let alone victimized, by the forces of globalization and modernity. We must not let ourselves swept in self-doubt and isolationism. We must stay at the forefront of globalization. We must follow the previous Ummah to think ahead of our time. With one billion strong, the Ummah possesses all potentials and power to drive globalization, to unleash its contructive force to bring peace and prosperity.
We missed the Industrial and Transportation revolutions. We were left behind in the revolution of modern military affairs, tehnology and tactics. We are yet major player in the information and communication technology. But this should not prevent us from taking an active and leading part in the Revolution of Information which is now well underway. We should not, and cannot afford to miss this very important revolution.
In the third millennium, the Ummah must intelligently seize the challenge and opportunities of globalization. Globalization, despite of its potential pitfalls, can bring opportunities and empowerment. It can help communities and nations catch up much faster with modernity. It can create a much more level playing field. Look at China and India, countries that have transformed so dramatically that today they are widely regarded as rising global powers. The Islamic world too can do this, but like China and India, it will need a lot of planning, discipline, governance, opening-up, reforms, and hard work.
To do all these, the Ummah will need good and visionary leaders. The Ummah cannot drift in limbo without direction. The Ummah needs to be guided by formal and informal leaders, who know how the world works, who can lead the way and make the hard decisions, and who can bring enlightenmen, wisdom, and guidance.
These muslim leaders must bear the conscience of the Ummah.
That is why the quality of leadership in the muslim world is critical. We will need to see that leadership in government, parliament, the business community, the media, the NGOs, and civil society at large.
And lastly, in pursuing all these, it is important for the Ummah to embrace gracefully in a constructive, open-minded, forward-looking, positive, and creative manner. The Ummah must continue to strive for moderation, tolerance and harmony. These are the true pillars of a lasting peace, prosperity, modernity and democracy for the Ummah.
No doubt, in our quest for peace and progress, we will be confronted by roadblocks and turbulence. We were severely disturbed by the ignorant cartoon of our Prophet Muhammad SAW. We remain concerned about the trend of Islamophobia in some parts of the world. We resent the suffering and injustices experienced by our brothers and sisters in Palestine.
But the Ummah must never cease to find solutions to problems, and to reach out to those who do not understand us, who do not understand Islam. We must always try to build bridges, through dialogue and cooperation.
Simply put, the world order that we are trying to build in the third millennium can not be sustained unless it is a happy home of inter-civilizational, inter-faith and inter-cultural inter-action. In this light, we find it heartening to see Turkey’s efforts to join the European Union, to see the first muslim Congressman sworn-in in the US Congress recently, and to see a dedicated muslim banker, Muhammad Yunus from Bangladesh, won the Nobel peace prize this year.
We need to encourage this positive trend. In this way, the Ummah can help foster a culture of peace, openness and tolerance for the human race.
Excellencies Ladies and Gentlemen,
We in Indonesia are eager to play our role in advancing the Ummah. About 85 % of Indonesia’s 220 million citizens are muslims, which makes us the country with the largest muslim population in the world. We are trying our best to promote a national development policy that will lift the living standard of all Indonesians, including our Ummah. We are now in the process of rebuilding Indonesia after the economic crisis, and the prospects are promising. We are optimistic that with strong fundamentals our economy will grow stronger, delivering better welfare, reduced poverty, more accesss to education and health, and stronger buying power. In this process, the Ummah will be more empowered, and their livelihood will improve.
Apart from promoting prosperity, we will maintain our Islamic tradition based on tolerance and moderation. Indonesia is living proof of a country where Islam, democracy and modernity go hand-in-hand. We will continue to protect and promote moderation and tolerance as we all know Islam is a religion of peace, progress and justice that is a blessing not just for muslims but for the in tire universe <i>(rahmatan lil’alamiin)</i>.
We in Indonesia are also closely monitoring the situation in the Middle-East, which remains fraught with turbulences. Like all of you, we wish to see the establishment of an independent and viable Palestinian state in the near future, and we will always support diplomatic efforts to attain a lasting and durable peace in the Middle-East.
We also watch the fragile situation in Lebanon closely, and we support the implementation of United Nations Security Resolution 1701 after the Israeli military agretion. We have sent our best troops to Lebanon to take part in the extended UNIFIL operations to keep the peace. There are those who are very pessimistic about the future of the Middle-East, but our experience here in Indonesia has taught us that there is always light at the end of the tunnel.
I am therefore very pleased and glad to learn about the theme of this Conference, which was apply chosen by the Organizers: Peaceful Reform and Democracy toward Better Future. It is the right theme for our time.
The message of our deliberation today is clear Islam does not contradict democracy, nor does it oppose modernity.
This is the message that we are going to spread to our peoples back home and to the world enlarge.
Brothers and Sisters,
Finnaly, I trust that you are starting something very important here. I hope the seeds of cooperation and brotherhood that you plant here will grow for the benefit of the Ummah.
Tomorrow, we are going to celebrate a new Islamic year in our Hijjriyah calendar Muharram the first 1428 Hijjriyah. I pray the year 1428 Hijjriyah as a year of peace and prosperity for the Muslims and a new beginning for the Ummah.
And by saying Bismillahirrahmanirahiim, I declare the First Conference of the International Forum for Islamist Parliamentarian, open.
I thank you.
Wassalamualaikum warrahmatullahi wabarrakatuh