Banda Aceh – The second day of the International Conference and AMAN Assembly 2023 was held on Sunday (October 15, 2023). The agenda began with the opening where the national anthem, Aceh’s anthem, and the Rampai Geleng dance were performed. The agenda also saw the presence of UIN Ar-Raniry University Rector, Prof. Dr. Mujiburrahman, M.Ag. Furthermore, the President of the Asian Muslim Action Network (AMAN), Prof. Amelia Fauzia, MA, and the Director of AMAN Indonesia, Ruby Kholifah, were present, along with participants from 20 countries attending the event.
In his address, UIN Ar-Raniry Aceh Rector, Prof. Mujiburrahman, M.Ag., said, “There are places and corners of the world that are dear to enjoy peace. One of them is Palestine.” He expressed his hope that through this forum, there will be concrete actions or recommendations for several countries or issues addressed. The conference initiated by AMAN serves as a platform for building relationships among Muslim communities in Southeast Asia. Through such interactions, he emphasized that mutual understanding is fostered among them. Mujiburrahman added that in life, Islam teaches tolerance and respect among different religions. He highlighted that all humans are born equal in the right to life and in their beliefs. “It is only devotion to the Almighty that distinguishes one from another in the presence of the Supreme Creator,” he stated.
In the same context, AMAN President, Prof. Amelia Fauzi, MA, invited participants to pray for the situation in Gaza, Palestine. She expressed concern over the increasing difficulties and escalation of conflicts. She hoped for a solution to the Gaza situation and called for all individuals and stakeholders to find the strength to empower themselves, sit together, change, and stop the conflict, transforming it into peace. She explained that AMAN, established in 1990, is a progressive Muslim organization founded to unify peace and social action in Asia to address various challenges facing Asian communities. It has been nearly 33 years since its establishment, and the organization has expanded its network not only in Asia but also beyond.
Currently, AMAN’s members are present in various countries and continue to grow. She shared three points about AMAN’s goals. First, the aim of AMAN is to build understanding and solidarity among Muslims and other religious communities in Asia. “We were founded by scholars and activists, which is why we have a combination of scholars, academics, and activists,” she explained. She also mentioned several programs related to human rights, peace studies, research fellowships, and more. AMAN focuses on dialogue within and between conflicts, conflict resolution, peacebuilding, and women’s empowerment. This is why AMAN collaborates with various universities to organize conferences like this.
She expressed gratitude to the Rector and UIN Ar-Raniry University for their cooperation in organizing the International Conference and AMAN Assembly 2023. She emphasized that Aceh has a unique history related to past conflicts and the tsunami. Therefore, they hope this conference will amplify the voice of Aceh and position Aceh as a Land of Peace.
Also present on the occasion was Mariana Ariestyawati, an Expert in Information Technology at the Ministry of Religious Affairs. The first plenary session featured the Chairman of the Nahdlatul Ulama’s Lakpesdam Central Board, the Chairman of Muhammadiyah’s Central Board, Prof. Dr. Syafiq A. Mughni, M.A. Ph.D., and the Dean of the Faculty of Education at the International Islamic University of Indonesia, Prof. Nina Nurmila, MA, Ph.D. They discussed religious inclusion from an Indonesian perspective and praised the positive contributions of NU and Muhammadiyah.
A total of 500 participants will gather at the International Conference and AMAN Assembly with the theme “Religious Inclusion and Peacebuilding in the World: the Perspectives of Muslims” at the Ali Hasyimi Auditorium, UIN Ar-Raniry, Banda Aceh, from October 14 to 17, 2023. Representatives from 20 countries worldwide are in attendance, including Afghanistan, Australia, Bangladesh, Burundi, India, Indonesia, Iran, Kenya, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan, the Philippines, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Thailand, the United Kingdom, and the United States. The four-day agenda addresses religious inclusion as a significant global task for all communities.
The International Conference is designed to provide a platform for the exchange of ideas among Muslims and representatives of other religions and beliefs, religious leaders, academics, activists, practitioners, media, and young people from organizations and communities to share achievements, challenges, and best practices related to religious diversity in Asia and the world. Topics range from the achievements of Muslims in promoting religious freedom, tolerance, and peace, including supporting women’s and young people’s leadership in peacebuilding, to discussing various humanitarian issues, crises, displacement, and Aceh’s role as a destination for Rohingya refugees in recent years. Finally, community resistance through negotiation and extremism of youth and women in context are also discussed.