Dialogue concrete - Muslim Delegation from Indonesia visited Austria
A delegation of eleven Indonesian university directors, professors and university teachers, leading executives of Islamic Schools (pesantren) and of Islamic institutions visited Vienna between 3 – 6 June 2008. Their visit was upon the initiative of the Austrian Ministry for European and International Affairs in co-operation with the German Foreign Ministry. The programme for the Indonesian delegation was co-ordinated by the Task Force for the Dialogue of Cultures of the Austrian Foreign Ministry.
The visitors’ programme intended to set up a concrete and direct dialogue between Europe and the Muslim world, between Austria and Indonesia. Stereotypes and misunderstandings – about “the Islam” as well as about “the West” – were meant to be dismantled through direct contact and communication. At the same time the programme should present European perspectives and values and give opportunity to discuss concrete exoperiences and contributions of Austria and Indonesia to dialogue efforts, promoting pluralism, tolerance and integration. The programme, therefore, is also to be seen as a contribution to the European Year of Intercultural Dialogue 2008.
The eleven high-ranking members of the Indonesian Muslim organisation called “Muhhammadiyah” were welcomed at the Austrian Foreign Ministry by Ambassador Emil Brix, Director General for Cultural Affairs, and Councillor Sabine Kroissenbrunner, Head of the Task Force for the Dialogue of Cultures, to discuss with officials from the Foreign Ministry. During the three-day-programme the Indonesian delegation visited the Austrian Parliament, the Local Government of the City of Vienna and the City Department MA 17 dealing with “Integration and Diversity Issues”. The Austrian Islamic Community welcomed the delegation for an exchange with Muslim representatives in Austria. The Austrian National Library presented some examples of its collection of Oriental Manuscripts and the Ludwig-Boltzmann-Institute for European History and Public Spheres outlined its projects.
Prof. Siti Chamamah Soerato, Chairwoman of Aishiyah, the women’s organisation of the Muhammadiyah, gave a public lecture on “Europe – Indonesian Muslim Perspectives” at the University of Vienna on June 4 followed by an exchange between the Indonesian delegation and researchers, journalists and the interested public of Austria.