Dutch royals discuss religious tolerance in Yogyakarta

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Dutch King Willem-Alexander (left) and Queen Maxima arrive at Halim Perdanakusuma Airport in Jakarta on March 9. (JP/Wendra Ajistyatama)

Dutch King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima joined an interfaith discussion on religious tolerance, among other issues, during their meeting with members of the Indonesian Consortium for Religious Studies (ICRS) in Yogyakarta, Central Java, on Wednesday.
Throughout the discussion, which took place at Prambanan Temple Museum, the king and queen listened to stories about the real-life dynamics of various religious groups in Yogyakarta.

Event committee member Dicky Sofjan said the discussion, which carried the theme “Religious Freedom and Harmony in Indonesia: Promise and Peril”, was vital to deepen mutual understanding among people of different beliefs across Indonesia.

“This interfaith dialogue is really important because it brings together different religious communities based in Yogyakarta and the surrounding areas. In this dialogue, we openly and honestly discussed various problems and challenges confronting the communities with respect to religious freedom and harmony,” Dicky said.

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The Dutch monarchs were also given the opportunity to directly speak with representatives of several religious communities in Yogyakarta to learn more about the relationship between differing beliefs in the region.

Uti Suprapti, a Hindu, voiced her concerns regarding the problems her community had faced in the region before the Dutch royalty. She said she hoped minority religious groups would no longer experience oppression in the near future.

Among representatives of religious groups who joined the discussion were individuals affiliated with the Ahmadiyah religious sect — a minority Muslim group that has long been persecuted for its beliefs.

“Your existence is very important here. Keep up the good work, keep it together. Thank you very much for this opportunity,” Willem told discussion participants at the end of the event.

The Dutch king and queen’s visit to Yogyakarta was part of the itinerary of their four-day state visit to Indonesia, which began on Tuesday when the monarchs were welcomed by President Joko “Jokowi” at Bogor Palace in West Java.

The royal couple also visited the Yogyakarta palace on Wednesday and was welcomed by Sultan Hamengkubuwono X — who is also Yogyakarta governor — and his wife Hemas along with princesses Mangkubumi, Bendara, Candrakirana and Maduretno. (rfa)

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