Indonesia’s two largest Muslim organizations criticized the Religious Affairs Ministry for barring a liberal Egyptian Islamic thinker from addressing an international youth conference in East Java. Din Syamusuddin, Chair of Muhammadiyah, who is a noted professor of Islamic thought, commented: “his visit should have instead been used for tabayyun(clarification) with Abu Zayd to find the truth about his Islamic thoughts. We should have discussed this kind of issue in a forum or debate with broad-mindness and tolerance.” Abu Zayd has been attacked in Egypt for arguing the Koran should be regarded as a cultural document The leader of Nahdiatul Ulama, Masdar Farid Mas’udi, also expressed concern over the ban. “I am not interested in judging whether Abu Zayd’s Islamic thought is right or heretic… but I think it’s not wise to promote an excessive suspicion of new things considered to be violating the mainstream view.” Both men expressed dismay that the Indonesian government was allowing extremist Muslim groups to dominate a religious dialogue.
The American media attempts to portray Muslims as being completely under the control of extremist religious fanatics. Indonesia is the largest Muslim nation in the world and its two largest Muslim organizations made a strong stand for religious freedom. Will their expressions of religious toleration be reported on Fox News?