Indonesia: Planned Friendship Tunnel
Indonesian President Joko “Jokowi” Widodorecently gave the green light to the construction of an underpass to connect Jakarta’s Istiqlal Grand Mosque to St Mary of the Assumption Cathedral, a Christian place of worship. The two buildings are located in Central Jakarta, in the heart of the Indonesia’s capital, facing each other. For Widodo, the underpass will encourage brotherhood between Muslims and Christians. During an inspection of the ongoing work, Widodotold reporters that “This will be a ‘friendship’ tunnel. Someone suggested building a link between the two places of worship. I agreed. People will no longer have to cross the street.”
For most Indonesians, the Grand Istiqlal Mosque (built between 1961 and 1978) has always been a symbol of interfaith dialogue since it was designed by a Christian architect, FrederichSilaban.Sukarno, Indonesia’s founder and first president, wanted the mosque to be built near the Assumption Cathedral and Immanuel Protestant Church as a show of the country’s unity, religious harmony and tolerance.Every year, many interfaith and intercommunal initiatives are undertaken during the main Muslim and Catholic religious holidays as a token of friendship and outreach, going far beyond simple courtesy visits.
For example, thanks to Card Ignatius SuharyoHardjoatmodjo, archbishop of Jakarta, Masses at the cathedral are rescheduled on the day when the world’s most populous Islamic country stops to celebrate Eid al-Fitr to allow Muslims to use the church’s parking lot.
At Christmas and Easter, members of the country’s two major moderate Islamic organisations (NahdlatulUlama and Muhammadiyah) provide security to the church and Catholic faithful.
(Extracted from asianews.it)