1st Biennial International Conference on Moderate Islam in Indonesia

By Anton Lutter.
The 27-29 March a conference was organised by Special Branch of Nahdlatul Ulama for the Netherlands, the Ministry of Religious Affairs of Indonesia and the Vrije Universiteit in cooperation with the Indonesian Embassy at The Hague and Persatuan Pemuda Muslim se-Eropa (Indonesian Young Muslims Association in Europe), taking place in Amsterdam and The Hague.
‘Rethinking Indonesia’s Islam Nusantara’: From Local relevance to Global Significance’ was the lead theme of the conference. This conference is the first ever on this topic to be organised outside Indonesia and involved speakers and participants from many different countries.
Indonesia is the most populous country in the world, and located far beyond the traditional centres of Islam such as Mecca and Egypt, Indonesia has developed its unique characteristics being the fusion of religion with local custom.

H.E. I Gusti Agung Wesaka Puja, Ambassador of Indonesia to the Kingdom of the Netherlands.
Islam Nusantara as mentioned in the conference opening remarks by the Indonesian Ambassador to The Netherlands I Gusti Agung Wesaka Puja “gives respect to local culture and is tolerant, inclusive and compassionate. Thus Islam Nusantara can be identified as a moderate Islam, that can contribute to global stability and peace”.
An array of interesting academic speeches was given by – amongst others- Prof. Dr Jaap Winter, of Vrije Univesiteit Amsterdam; Prof. Dr Phil. Kamaruddin, MA, director-general of Islamic Education in Jakarta; Ahmad Baso, author of The Intellectual Origins of Islam Nusantara.
The closing remarks were by Prof. Dr. Karel Steenbrink from Utrecht University who gave an oversight of the development of Islam in Indonesia. Wednesday the H.E. I Gusti Agung Wesaka Puja, hosted a Gala Night with classical Indonesian dance and music.
The guests included the Indonesian ambassadors in Algeria, Azerbeidzjan, Lebanon and Saudi Arabia who were the amongst the co-signatories of the joint declaration on Islam Nusantara.