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Delegates of the Cross-Cultural Religious Literacy program held in Kazakhstan, March 16-17, 2022.


IL News 009/2022

Jakarta, June 24, 2022 – Indonesia became the first country in the world to implement a Cross-Cultural Religious Literacy (LKLB, for its acronym in Indonesian) training program. Indonesia’s experience in fostering the zeal for mutual respect and cooperation in the midst of diversity has “gone international” and won praises from the audience in a similar program held in Kazakhstan.

The Executive Director of Leimena Institute, Matius Ho, traveled to the city of Shymkent, Kazakhstan on March 16-17, 2022 at the invitation of the Founder and President of Love Your Neighbor Community (LYNC), Wade Kusack.

The purpose of said travel was to share Indonesia’s experience in implementing the LKLB program conducted by Leimena Institute and supported by the Templeton Religion Trust along with various partners such as Maarif Institute, Council of Primary and Secondary Education Muhammadiyah Central Board, Pesantren Development Institute Muhammadiyah Central Board, Istiqlal Mosque, Alkhairaat’s Board of Trustees, Sunan Kalijaga State Islamic University, Muslim University of Indonesia, Alkhairaat University in Palu, and RBC Institute A. Malik Fadjar.

“I received an invitation to Kazakhstan because the LKLB program in Indonesia has attracted a lot of attention outside the country. LKLB training in Indonesia is truly a concrete program that has a big impact,” said Matius to IL News, Monday (6/6/2022).

Matius delivered a presentation about the LKLB program in Indonesia through an event entitled “Interdisciplinary Approaches to Global Engagement: Cross-Cultural Religious Literacy & Global Security Certificate Program”. Thus far, the LKLB program in Indonesia has been attended by around 2,600 participants from 17 batches.

Matius stated that the two-day training was just the initial stage in introducing the LKLB concept. The delegates, who attended, consisted of 57 people from government officials to interfaith leaders, namely prosecutors, law enforcement officers, religious affairs officials, Islamic religious leaders, Orthodox Christian priests, and Evangelical Christian pastors. They received a certificate with Leimena Institute as one of the signatories.

“The response to my presentation about the LKLB program in Indonesia had been very positive. The LKLB program in Indonesia really attracted the interest of the delegates,” said Matius.

In his presentation, Matius shared about the diversity of Indonesia in terms of ethnicities, regional languages, as well as religions and beliefs. Despite having the largest Muslim population in the world, Indonesia is a unitary state as agreed upon by the nation’s founders stated in the Youth Pledge. Matius also talked about the figure of Dr. Johannes Leimena who was one of the central figures in the Youth Pledge event and was also a trusted man of Soekarno, the first President of the Republic of Indonesia.

“Cross-Cultural Religious Literacy is in line with Pancasila, the founding principles of the Indonesian state, and its motto Bhinneka Tunggal Ika (Unity in Diversity),” Matius told his audience in Kazakhstan.

The Indonesian Ambassador to the Republic of Kazakhstan and the Republic of Tajikistan, Fadjroel Rachman (center), together with his wife, Mrs. Poppy Yoeska, received a book by Prof. Dr. Ahmad Syafii Maarif entitled “Islam, Humanity and the Indonesian Identity: Reflections on History” from the Executive Director of Leimena Institute, Matius Ho.

Meeting with Ambassador Fadjroel Rachman

During his visit to Kazakhstan, Matius also met with Fadjroel Rachman, the Ambassador of the Republic of Indonesia to the Republic of Kazakhstan and the Republic of Tajikistan, in Nur-Sultan, the capital city, on March 20, 2022. Ambassador Fadjroel was inspired by the LKLB concept, especially the term “religious literacy” because he considered it more acceptable by many groups.

“The Ambassador responded very positively to the LKLB program being carried out by Leimena Institute, and even the term ‘religious literacy’ was very fascinating to him,” said Matius.

At the end of their meeting, Matthew handed over a book written by the late Prof. Dr. Ahmad Syafii Maarif in the English version entitled “Islam, Humanity and the Indonesian Identity: Reflections on History”. The book was a translation of the original work of Prof. Syafii Maarif, or familiarly called Buya Syafii, entitled “Islam Dalam Bingkai Keindonesiaan dan Kemanusiaan” (Islam through the Indonesian and Humanitarian Framework), later on translated by Leimena Institute and published by Leiden University Press.

The Executive Director of Leimena Institute, Matius Ho, when delivering his presentation regarding the CCRL program in Indonesia.

Concerning the response of the delegates of the LKLB program in Kazakhstan, Matius stated that the case studies from Indonesia was considered as offering a reliable answer and very relevant for the audiences in the law enforcement, namely how to reduce the risk of religiously motivated extremism in the situation of Kazakhstan which is very complex at present. Kazakhstan is also similar to Indonesia as a country with Muslims as a majority.

“The LKLB program in Indonesia impacted them because it is not just a concept, and it can answer the challenges of extremism there as well,” he remarked.

Matius added that the Deputy Head of Shymkent Department of Religious Affairs assessed the LKLB program very favorably and showed his support during the post-event conversations, evaluations, and follow-ups.

Delegates of the LKLB program in Kazakhstan listen to the presentation regarding the LKLB program in Indonesia.

“One of the participants, a prosecutor for the city of Turkestan, Kazakhstan, said the said program has a very interesting approach in that it shares case studies from around the world rather than stating what to do. He wants to see how the religious literacy program can be implemented in his country,” continued Matius.

The LKLB program in Kazakhstan was officially conducted by the Committee on Religious Affairs under Kazakhstan’s Ministry of Information and Social Development and organized by LYNC with its local civil society partner, the Association of Religious Organizations of Kazakhstan (AROK).

“The Committee on Religious Affairs is the highest institution in the Kazakhstan government that deals with religious affairs. The event was opened and closed by Yerzhan Nukezhanov, Chairman of the Committee on Religious Affairs,” said Matius.

In addition to Leimena Institute, the program in Kazakhstan also involved other partners including the Institute for Global Engagement (IGE), Faith Centre at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), Caspian University Kazakhstan, and the International Religious Freedom Secretariat Washington DC. (IL/Chr)