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Indonesia's largest Islamic organization elects new chief

UCA News - December 24, 2021

Ryan Dagur, Jakarta – Indonesia's largest Muslim organization, Nahdlatul Ulama, known for its moderate ideology, has elected a new chairman.

Yahya Cholil Staquf, the organization's current secretary-general, was elected on Dec. 24 for the next five years, defeating the current chairman.

Siradj, who has served as chairman for two terms, said he hoped his successor would continue the organization's mission to teach a moderate and tolerant form of Islam.

Nahdlatul Ulama, which has around 80 million followers, is known for its appreciation of pluralism, seen with its banning of the term "infidel" to describe non-Muslims and promoting cultural values that are recognized as being friendly and polite.

Father Antonius Benny Susetyo, a member of a presidential unit promoting communal tolerance, said he hoped Staquf will strengthen the role of Nahdatul Ulama in fighting off threats posed by religious extremism.

"His election is a blessing for all of us given his very encouraging moderate views, which are also recognized at international level," he said.

Staquf was born into a family of Islamic scholars and one of his younger siblings is the current minister of religion, Yaqut Cholil Qaumas

"We always need organizations like Nahdatul Ulama that are getting stronger in spreading influence in order to stem the views of other groups that can damage our nation."

Staquf was born into a family of Islamic scholars and one of his younger siblings is the current minister of religion, Yaqut Cholil Qaumas.

Their father is Cholil Bisri, who is a former deputy chairman of the People's Consultative Assembly and one of the founders of the National Awakening Party.

Staquf is often invited to speak about Islam at various international forums.

Last year he attended a meeting at the Vatican where he met Pope Francis. After the meeting, he revealed the pope was planning to visit Indonesia. The trip was later canceled due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

He was also a speaker at the American Jewish Committee Global Forum in 2018 in Israel, which sparked controversy at the time because it was considered not in line with Indonesia's commitment to support Palestinian independence, but his organization defended it as part of efforts to achieve Palestinian independence through diplomacy.

Staquf, who was born in Rembang, Central Java, on Feb. 16, 1966, also served as spokesman for former president Abdurahman Wahid from 1999 to 2001 and as a member of the Presidential Advisory Council from 2014 to 2019.

Source: https://www.ucanews.com/news/indonesias-largest-islamic-organization-elects-new-chief/95522