Norway helps protect, promotes respect for holy sites in Indonesia

In search for Common Ground, Religions for Peace and the Royal Norwegian Embassy in Jakarta Join Forces to Protect and Respect Holy Sites in Indonesia. protect_holysites

Home to world’s major religions and traditions—Islam, Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism, Confucianism—and various indigenous beliefs, Indonesia has witnessed increasing religious-based intolerance over recent years. Many holy sites, especially those belong to minority groups, have been targets of destruction, desecration and controversy. This lack of respect and protection for holy sites leaves Indonesia with a major challenge to build mutual understanding, respect and inter-faith actions that will strengthen social cohesion and community solidarity amongst the pluralistic Indonesian people.

In response to this situation, Search for Common Ground (SFCG) Indonesia in collaboration with Religions for Peace (RfP) and Indonesia’s Inter-Religious Council (IRC), and supported by the Royal Norwegian Embassy in Jakarta launched a project entitled “Empowering Inter-faith Collaboration to Respect and Protect Holy Sites in Indonesia” last week.

“I am happy to support Search for Common Ground and Religions for Peace’s work to increase religious understanding and protection of holy sites in Indonesia. I believe this is an important way to support Indonesia in preserving its rich and diverse heritage,” said Norwegian Ambassador for Indonesia, His Excellency Mr. Stig Traavik. “This project aims to increase understanding on religious tolerance, promote the importance of respecting holy sites, and strengthen interfaith collaboration to protect and respect holy sites. With support from the Royal Norwegian Embassy and collaboration with RfP and IRC, I am positive we can achieve these goals,” Scott Cunliffe, Country Director of SFCG Indonesia, added.

The project will be implemented for 18 months, starting from August 2014, in several areas selected based on different religious demographics and challenges. Using four pillars—research, media, public outreach and institutional dialogue—the approach will rely on the principles of the Universal Code on Holy Sites to guide discussions and cooperative actions.

The Universal Code on Holy Sites is a document that maps out a detailed code of conduct in relation to sacred places worldwide. Endorsed by senior religious leaders from over 10 faiths, the Code promotes interreligious reconciliation and provides an agreed-upon way in which all holy sites can be safeguarded. Completed in January 2011, the Code was developed over a 3-year process in consultation with senior faith advisors, with funding from the Norwegian government and through a partnership between Search for Common Ground, the Oslo Center for Peace and Human Rights, One World in Dialogue and Religions for Peace.

Read more: Oslo Center for Peace and Human Rights

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