Jakarta model for Spring: UK
British Prime Minister David Cameron (C) bows in respect to the flag during a guard of honor ceremony during his visit to Putrajaya, Malaysia’s administrative capital outside Kuala Lumpur yesterday. AFP photoBritish Prime Minister David Cameron has praised Indonesia as a model for nations making the transition to democracy in the wake of the Arab Spring, saying that the world’s largest Muslim-majority nation has proved that democracy and Islam can co-exist.
“What Indonesia is showing is that it is possible to develop a democracy and a modern economy that neither compromises people’s security nor their ability to practice their religion,” Cameron said. “This has huge implications for others seeking the same fundamental freedoms in places like Egypt, Iran and Syria.”
Speaking at al-Azhar Islamic University, in Jakarta, capital of the world’s most populous Muslim nation, Cameron called on groups such as Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, to look to Indonesia’s for tips on nation-building, following the Arab Spring that toppled longtime Middle Eastern autocrats.
While most of Indonesia’s Muslims are moderate and the country is technically secular, it also faces the problem of Islamic militancy and a rising tide of conservatism, which could push regions with large Christian populations to try to break away. Members of the Southeast Asian militant group Jemaah Islamiah were convicted of bombings on the Indonesian resort island of Bali in 2002, which killed more than 200 people. Despite this, Cameron said that Britain considered Indonesia “one of the most stable, open democracies in Asia.”
Turkey has similarly been claimed as an example where religion and democracy can co–exist. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said Turkey was an example of coexistence between democracy and Islam when he was interviewed by Charlie Rose on the PBS TV station recently.
Authorities regard Cameron’s speech as one of the highlights of his current trip to Asia, as the visit moves from a trade mission to focus on politics. The main highlight will come today, when he becomes the first western leader to go to Myanmar since Aung San Suu Kyi’s recent success in a series of parliamentary by-elections.
Compiled from Reuters and AFP stories by the Daily News staff.