RLA Arranges Meeting With Indonesian Journalists on Religious Freedom and the Media

L to R: Dr. Bert Beach, Mr. Maksum Maksum, Mr. Aidir Amir Daud, Dr. John Graz

February 14, 2001. Silver Spring, MD, USA . [IRLA News] The International Religious Liberty Association facilitated a meeting of two visiting Indonesian newspaper editors with religious freedom experts at its International Office in Silver Spring, Maryland, USA.

Aidir Amir Daud, Vice-director of the daily newspaper Fajar and Maksum Maksum, chief editor of the daily Jawa Post, visited the US as part of a Department of State International Visitor program. Their program was arranged to focus on "Press Freedom and the Rule of Law" in the light of recent events in Indonesia.

"Different communities have difficulty in detaching themselves from religious matters," commented Maksum. "There can be jealousy and suspicion between religious groups, and a very complex societal problem can develop that is very difficult to resolve."

"The Indonesian constitution guarantees religious freedom but this is not always applied in practice," added Daud. "Religion is the right of the individual, but other factors such as affluence can cause problems. The key is communication between religious leaders and a working together for socio-economic equality."

Indonesia has been the arena for violent and bloody clashes between Moslems and Christians. The IRLA was asked by the two newspaper editors to help in providing assistance on the importance of tolerance and dialogue in maintaining peaceful coexistence and religious freedom.

Reflection on the American religious liberty experience was provided by Attorneys Robert Nixon and Mitchell Tyner. The meeting was chaired by IRLA secretary general John Graz.

[Jonathan Gallagher]