Indonesia: Muslim groups told to focus on poverty, not politics

Jakarta, 29 August (AKI/Jakarta Post) - Indonesia's major Islamic organisations should be more involved in poverty alleviation programmes rather than political activities.

This was the conclusion of an Islam-focused conference in Jakarta which ended on Tuesday.

Muslim groups should also contribute toward public policies and petition the government to become pro-active toward families in need throughout Indonesia, according to the Jakarta-based Maarif Institute and the Asia Foundation.

Executive director of Maarif Institute, Raja Juli Antoni, said that Indonesia's Islamic organizations, including Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) and Muhammadiyah, enjoyed widespread influence and credibility and should leverage this to empower entire communities to become more involved in programmes for those in need.

"They can create programmes to empower poor people by cooperating with non-governmental organizations as well as local administrations, for example by establishing microfinancial institutions," Raja said.

The conference involved representatives from NU, Muhammadiyah and several provincial and regional administrations.

Raja said the Islamic organisations were often too busy with their own internal business.

He said the "poor political atmosphere" surrounding large Islamic organizations had seen a massive fragmentation into numerous groups "with miscellaneous political motives". This was due partly to their lack of political influence.

Raja said Islamic organizations should turn their focus also toward the government and the establishment of a good governance systems, especially in relation to budget transparency and accountability.

"It is time for Islamic organisations to take concrete measures, rather than only performing proselytism activities," he said.

The director of the Islam and development programme at the Asia Foundation, John Brownlee, said although Islamic organizations had put some energy towards solving poverty, their efforts were not realised by those in power.

"Thus, they need to strengthen their management and their positioning toward the decision makers," Brownlee said.

There had been many successful programmess undertaken by Islamic organizations, local administrations and NGOs, but they had been hampered by politics, he said.


print          send



Contact us