Rahmatan lil 'Alamin (Blessing for All Creation)
Global Counter-Extremism Network
LOS ANGELES and WASHINGTON,
May 7, 2008 --
much of the world clamors for a moderate Muslim voice to speak out
against extremism and violence in the Middle East and globally,
Indonesia's first democratically elected President, His Excellency
Kyai Haji Abdurrahman Wahid, last night outlined his views on
promoting peace by exporting pluralistic and tolerant forms of Islam
to the Middle East.
"'Rather than view Israel and Jews through a
politicized lens of religious hatred and violence, we must help
Muslim populations -- not only in Palestine, but throughout the Arab
world -- rise to embrace a profoundly spiritual and tolerant
understanding of Islam, and a humanistic attitude towards the
Israeli-Palestinian conflict,' said President Wahid.
"President Wahid's comments came during a rare
visit to the United States to accept The Simon Wiesenthal Center's
Medal of Valor for his leadership of the LibForAll Foundation and
his efforts to combat Holocaust denial in the Muslim world."
~ Reuters/Los Angeles Times
to right: Rabbi Abraham Cooper, C. Holland Taylor and Rabbi Marvin
behind K.H. Abdurrahman Wahid
Will Smith was one of the hosts for the Wiesenthal Center
Tribute dinner, held at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel in
Beverley Hills, California.
The audience of over 900, including many of Hollywood's
elite, gave a prolonged standing ovation to President Wahid,
with much of the audience in tears.
"In its telling, the story
of a notorious lynching of Jews is not unusual. The
storyteller, however, is: Abdurrahman Wahid, the former
Indonesian president, and a leading Muslim scholar, visiting
the U.S. to preach his message of Muslim tolerance, revealed
the root of his understanding of the risks and perils of
"Wahid was a 29-year-old
student at Baghdad University in 1966, earning his keep as a
secretary at a textile importer, when he befriended the
firm’s elderly accountant, an Iraqi Jew he remembers only by
his family name, Ramin. “I learned from him about the
Kabbalah, the Talmud, everything about Judaism,” Wahid
recalled of the four-year friendship that included long
lunches, quiet walks and talks at the city’s legendary
"In 1968, the Iraqi
government effectively had come under the control of Saddam
Hussein, whose title at that time was deputy to the
president, Ahmad Hassan al-Bakr.
"At Saddam’s behest, Iraqi
courts had convicted 14 Iraqis – nine of them Jews – on
trumped-up charges of spying for Israel, and they were
hanged that day in Baghdad’s Tahrir Square, just steps away
from where the textile firm had offices.
came to his friend Wahid and wept, wondering what would
become of Iraq’s ancient Jewish community. “I said,
‘This is not only your fate, it is my fate,’ ” said Wahid,
now frail and in a wheelchair. Wahid said he decided
then that “the Islamic people should learn” about the Jews
and their faith.
worst fears were realized: The community that dated to the
Babylonian exile heard Saddam’s message loud and clear, and
by the early 1970s it had dwindled to barely a hundred Jews.
By 2007 there were less than 10, according to media
however, made good on his pledge.... The apex of this
effort, conducted jointly with the LibForAll Foundation, a
group that promotes moderate Islam, and the Simon Wiesenthal
Center, was the
conference last year in Bali, Indonesia."
Jewish Telegraph Agency
President Wahid and his wife, Ibu Sinta
Nuriyah Wahid, with tribute guests including Lord Carey of
Clifton (the former Archbishop of Canterbury) and Amy
Pascal, Co-Chairman of Sony Pictures Entertainment
Group. The dinner chairmen included Jeffrey
Katzenberg, CEO and director of Dreamworks Animation; Ron
Meyer, President and CEO of Universal Studios; and Sir
Howard Stringer, Chairman and CEO of Sony Corporation.
Washington activities included dinners in honor of President
Wahid at the Rayburn House Office Building (sponsored by
Congressman Robert Wexler and the American Jewish
Committee), and at the Indonesian ambassador's residence;
meetings with Congressmen, Senators and various think tanks;
a meeting in the West Wing of the White House with Vice
President Dick Cheney; and a private briefing with members
of the DC press corps (left), which generated national and
international coverage of President Wahid's visit.
Messenger of Moderate Islam
President Wahid Receiving the Wiesenthal Center's Medal of
officials—from the Bush administration to Congress to the
Pentagon— have been struggling to build a strategy to
counter radical Islamists. So it’s no wonder that the former
president of Indonesia,
was much sought after by top lawmakers, senior White House
officials, and other policy makers when he visited
Washington in May. Wahid, who led the world’s largest Muslim
nation from 1999 to 2001, has been promoting a message of
tolerance and democracy. He is a strong supporter of Israel,
and last [month], the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles
awarded a medal of valor to Wahid for his highly public
stance in condemning Iranian President
as a liar for
denying the Holocaust. Wahid was accompanied in Washington
C. Holland Taylor,
founder of the LibForAll Foundation, which works globally to
promote the message of moderate Islam.
~ Bob Gettlin,
We are pleased to offer a
rare opportunity to meet and discuss with the former
President of Indonesia, H.E. Kyai Haji Abdurrahman Wahid,
what works to curb radical Islam in South East Asia and how
and if this strategy is transferrable elsewhere in the
"On Wednesday, May 8th at 4:45 p.m., we
invite you and key staff and Hill leadership to join us in
Room S-207, the Mansfield Room, where we can hear why the
Wall Street Journal has called President Wahid "the
single most influential religious leader in the Muslim
world," and "easily the most important ally the West has in
the struggle with radical Islam"....
"We trust you can use this opportunity to
gain a greater understanding of the importance of efforts
LibForAll is undertaking to confront radical Islam."
Senators Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) and Christopher "Kit" Bond
President Wahid and LibForAll CEO Holland Taylor also
participated in an event co-sponsored with the American
Islamic Congress's Project Nur program, speaking directly to young Muslims at
George Washington University, where they discussed the need for
moderate Muslims to combat extremism by promoting a pluralistic and
tolerant understanding of Islam.
photo, left to right:
Zainab Al Suwaij, Executive Director of the American Islamic
Congress; GWU professor Sayyed Hossein Nasr; Abdurrahman Wahid; C.
Holland Taylor; bottom photo, Project Nur students with
"Muslims themselves must propagate an understanding of tolerant Islam
and work to discredit extremist ideologies. Accomplishing this task
requires the understanding and support of like-minded individuals,
organizations and governments throughout the world," said President
Wahid. "The American Islamic Congress, through its Project Nur program,
does just that by engaging young Muslims in promoting responsible
leadership and interfaith understanding without the cloud of extremism
~ Reuters/Los Angeles Times
Rock Music, Islamic Teachings,
for Moderate Islam
"Moderate Islam stands a greater chance of
triumphing over Islamic radicalism once Western leaders stop
trying to accommodate Islamic extremists.
"'Don't give any kind of recognition to the
fundamentalist view of Islam,' Wahid said. 'The Saudis
have a double-pronged thing: the first is to give assistance
to fundamentalists, on the other side to show the 'humanist'
side of Islam. These things cannot be reconciled."'
~ Ron Kampease,
Jewish Telegraph Agency
President Wahid also toured the Civil War battlefield at
Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, to study the lessons of American
history. He and LibForAll CEO Holland
~ a North Carolina native whose ancestors fought at
~ visited key sites including Seminary Ridge, the
Peach Orchard, the Wheatfield, Devil's Den, Little Roundtop
and Cemetery Ridge. Asked what he learned there,
President Wahid replied, "The importance of acting
decisively in a time of crisis," and "the effect that a few
men of courage can have upon human destiny."
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