- The Washington Times - Sunday, November 12, 2006

Indonesia’s example

Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim nation, proves that Islam and democracy can coexist and that a free Islamic country can be a reliable U.S. ally, the Indonesian ambassador said ahead of President Bush’s visit next week to the South Pacific island nation.

“We are proud to become the third largest democracy in the world, after India and the United States,” Ambassador Sudjadnan Parnohadiningrat said Friday at the National Press Club.

“As a country with the largest Muslim population, we are also proud to showcase that Islam and democracy are compatible with one another. Together they serve as a strong foundation for the delicate fabric of our society.”

Indonesia has 245 million people living on 6,000 of the archipelago’s 17,508 islands. Eighty-eight percent of the population is Muslim. Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono won the presidency in a free and fair election in 2004, and Indonesia had 257 local elections in the past year, the ambassador noted.

He heralded Mr. Bush’s scheduled visit next Monday as an opportunity for leaders of both countries to discuss the bilateral “strategic partnership” and hold “frank discussions” on “our differences.”

Mr. Parnohadiningrat also noted that Indonesians are free to hold public demonstrations and that the press is among the freest, most critical and robust in the world.

The ambassador said Indonesia, like the United States, has been a victim of Islamist terrorists, but said they represent a small fraction of the population.

“To win against radicalism, it is very important to empower those who cherish the principles of pluralism and tolerance,” he said. “Those are the overwhelming majority of our people.”

Diplomatic traffic

Foreign visitors in Washington this week include:

Today

• Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, who meets with President Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and leaders of the Jewish community. Mr. Olmert’s press secretary, Miri Eisen, holds a 4 p.m. press conference at the National Press Club.

• President Amadou Toumani Toure and Foreign Minister Moctar Ouane of Mali, who meet with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to sign a Millennium Challenge Compact with the United States.

• Yegor Gaidar, acting prime minister of Russia under President Boris Yeltsin and proponent of a free-market economy in post-Soviet Russia. He addresses the American Enterprise Institute.

• Ivan Miklos, former deputy prime minister of Slovakia, who addresses the Tax Foundation on flat-tax reform. Tomorrow he speaks at the Cato Institute.

Tomorrow

• Shi Yongxin, abbot of the Shaolin Temple in China, who meets with State Department officials, members of Congress, opinion leaders and Chinese Ambassador Zhou Wenzhong.

• Milada Horakova, a Czech freedom fighter and former politician, who receives the Truman-Reagan Medal of Freedom Award in a ceremony at the Czech Embassy.

• Mufti Mohammed Sayeed, a leader of the People’s Democratic Party of Jammu and Kashmir and former chief minister of the province. He addresses the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Wednesday

• Matan Vilnai, a member of the Israeli parliament,Itamar Rabinovich, president of Tel Aviv University, and Yasser Abed Rabbo, a member of the Palestinian Authority’s executive committee. They discuss the Arab-Israeli conflict in a forum at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.

• Vincent Nmehielle, principal defense of the Special Court for Sierra Leone, and Kurt Riechenberg, senior legal secretary of the European Court of Justice. They participate in a conference sponsored by the American Society of International Law.

Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297, fax 202/832-7278 or e-mail jmorrison@ washingtontimes.com.


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