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Grand Imam of Istiqlal Mosque Calls for Preservation of Indonesia’s Diversity

Jakarta. Nasaruddin Umar, the grand imam of the Istiqlal Mosque in Central Jakarta, said Indonesian communities should preserve their diversity by continuing to celebrate the differences and dynamics between them.

Speaking at an Idul Fitri gathering hosted by the Lippo Group in Karawaci, Banten, on Thursday (06/07), the former religious affairs minister said the country’s people should strive to overcome these differences.

“The most important issue for Indonesia now is to acquaint ourselves, our younger generation, to get accustomed to a pluralistic lifestyle,” said Nasaruddin, who heads the capital’s largest mosque.

“If we are already living with diversity, the entire world will become jealous of us, as we, Indonesia, with more than 15,000 islands, may create a [new] model culture,” he added.

Nasaruddin described diversity in Indonesia as beautiful, calling for its preservation.

“Being different is beautiful, so it is better to celebrate differences,” he said, adding that these differences should not cause any problems.

He further highlighted tolerance as the best way to accept diversity in Indonesia.

“Tolerance may be present in our hearts and minds if we have the capacity to accept differences. There is no tolerance without acceptance of others [who are different from us]. Indonesia is a laboratory for tolerance in the world,” he said.