Interfaith dialogues organized by religious communities, academic schools, governmental institutions, and NGOs have been identical to the role of senior figures. As the consequence, the role of the youth which is actually potential, is somewhat neglected in the effort of developing dialogue. The topic of revitalizing the role youth in interfaith dialogue was the issue raised by Roma Ulinnuha, an ICRS student, when speaking in Wednesday Forum on 08 December 2010.
Bringing out “Youth in Promoting Religious Dialogue: Comparative Study of Youth Representation in Indonesia and in United States”, Roma tried to explain how the young generation able to take an active role in developing interfaith dialogue. The research case that he did was about the activities undertaken by the organization Youth Movement or Gerakan Pemuda (GP) Ansor in Indonesia and the Interfaith Youth-Core (IFYC) in the United States.
GP Ansor is a youth movement affiliated with the traditional Muslim organization in Indonesia, Nahdlatul Ulama (NU). More specifically, Roma raised the experience of GP Ansor of Magelang Branch, Central Java, in managing the local scale dialogue. On the other hand, IFYC, an institution based in the United States, manages the interfaith dialogue among the youth on the global scale. Roma then proceeded to make comparisons of experiences upon GP Ansor and IFYC.
According to Roma who also serves as a lecturer at UIN Yogyakarta, GP Ansor as the representation of Indonesia is still engaged with incidental dialogue program in local area within cultural basis. The role of local religious leaders is very much influential towards the people. Conversely, IFYC has been able to plan the long-term dialogue in global scale with the worldwide youths its main element. IFCY moves and uses the information flow and technology to fully function without being dependent to the role of religious leaders.
The discussion ran well with all questions raised by the participants. Joko Wicoyo, ICRS students, who acted as moderator, was also able to direct the discussion well. First question addressed was the possibility and the procedure for Indonesian youths to join the activities of IFYC. The speaker replied that it is possible to joining IFYC as it is naturally an open organization.
Regarding GP Ansor, Roma presented his reason why he chose it as a study case, because it is a youth movement which already had an inclusive reputation. In Magelang, GP Ansor had managed to organize local dialogues, such as dialogues held d in February 2010 at a Chinese temple in Muntilan, and in April 2010 at a Catholic seminary in Mertoyudan.
The discussion then talked about religious atmosphere in Magelang. In this area, GP Ansor, traditional Islam with inclusive label tends to be dominant amongst the society that makes it easier to hold the inter-faith dialogue. Religious leaders also have spiritual, cultural, and political capitals which such situation is not necessarily found in other areas. [MoU]
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