A useless conference called "Islam and The West: Cooperation or Confrontation" was held at the Muhammadiyah University in Surakarta, central Java in which most of the participants fell over themselves to deceive and offer platitudes on the problem of world Islamic terrorism.
Speakers included Amien Rais, the leader of the National Mandate Party, PAN, the regional police chief, Dody Sumantyawan, a representative from the US embassy, Bruce Lawrence, Daniel Petz, the ambassador for Austria, (the Danish Ambassador however was nowhere to be seen), somebody called Ribbi Awad who thinks he is the ambassador for Palestine, and the chairman of the Indonesian Mujahidin Council of Yogyakarta, Ustad M Tholib, practically a terrorist. Motley bunch. Apparently the conference was convened to develop a new era of cooperation in relations between the west and the Islamic world.
Amien Rais got the ball rolling with the assertion that 99% of the world's Muslims, given a choice between cooperation with the western world and confrontation with it, would choose chumminess. Where exactly he got the figure 99% from is known only to his voluble self.
Rais, who like Azyumardi Azra, is thought to be a Muslim intellectual, said this:
If given a choice between the two alternatives I am sure that from Merauke to Morocco people would choose working together. The reason is that if there are atom bombs in the world we have no choice but to avoid confrontation.
Warming to the sound of his own voice he waffled on that cooperation between the two clashing civilisations was a very important matter in building a strong world culture, whatever that means. The two sides had to reach for a new period of cooperation and avoid emphasising or increasing their differences. The basis for his belief in this, he said, was that all religions were the same in ethical terms, that is, they were based in the teaching of the ancient Hebrews (Ibrani).
Not entirely sure where to start ripping this drivel to shreds. Giving him the benefit of the doubt, that he meant "all religions in the western and the Islamic worlds", which isn't true but not as wrong as "all religions in the world", the real offence against common sense in his words is the assumption that religion matters at all in the west, and it doesn't in most parts.
Rais went on to reject the perceived stigmitisation of Islam in the west as a religion of terror and said that terror was entirely alien to Islam. I'm not entirely following his logic because he then said that because of this he wished that Muslims would stop carrying out terror acts because they only harmed Islam itself. Actually it's just the old argument that just because some Muslims are terrorists doesn't mean their actions are guided by the teachings of Islam but of course he declined to provide any proof for this.
After Rais was done Bruce Lawrence said how happy he was that people were so committed to working together. Regarding the terror issue Lawrence said that nearly all religions had a problem in this area, and that the difference in degree between them was very small, although he declined to give any examples or proof or evidence, such things obviously being superflous at drivel workshops for pompous talkaholics like this.
Because cooperation is much better than confrontation.
said the Professor from Duke University, stunning the floor.
He added that he hoped that the energies engaged in radicalism could be redirected towards the search for peace.
He said that that there needs to be an increase in the closeness between followers of Islam, Christianity, and Judaism as well as other religions to enable greater understanding between them. Islam was a part of the west and the west was a part of Islam. The two cannot be separated.
On the Muhammad cartoons issue Lawrence made more sense saying that the first or second bouts of demonstrations were legitimate but carrying it on and on was not good.
Ribbi Awad, the man who thinks he is an ambassador, came out all guns blazing against, predictably, "international Zionism". He accused Zionists of refusing to transfer western technology over to the Muslim world and thereby keeping that world in a backward state. No soul searching for Ribbi Awad, it's all the Jews fault. Yet, he said, despite all the outrages that the Muslim world had suffered at the hands of the west they were still willing to hold out the hand of friendship.
It is warmly received by some it appears.