REPUBLIKA.CO.ID, JAKARTA -- Vice President Jusuf Kalla said the Asia-Pacific Qur'an Recitation Competition of Prince Sulthan bin Abdul Aziz Assu'ud held in Jakarta will encourage peace in the Middle East.
"So many verses in the Qur'an state we must be united and not be separated," he said while giving a speech at the closing ceremony of the annual event here on Thursday.
The Vice President called on Islamic countries, especially the Arab nations, to unite. "We want Palestine to be independent and peaceful. But, it is unlikely as long as Hamas and Fatah are not unified," he said.
The closing ceremony of the competition was attended by Prince Khalid bin Sulthan Assu'ud bin Abdul Aziz and the Saudi Arabian Ambassador to Indonesia, Ibrahim Mustafa Al Mubarak.
Jusuf said Indonesia has a national motto called "Bhineka Tunggal Ika," which means unity in diversity.
According to him, the principle is not only practiced by the government, but also in carrying out the practice of Islam.
"We have different ways to practice Islam, but it remains Islam. We do not expect differences to turn into a conflict. Make the difference a blessing. That is the meaning of this Qur'an recitation competition," he said.
With 210 million Muslims, Indonesia has become the largest Muslim country in the world, he said.
He noted that the number of mosques in Indonesia is about 800 thousand. "This means that every 250 Indonesian Muslims have one mosque, and about 99 percent of the mosques were built by the people without government funding.
Indonesia also had 30 thousand units of Islamic boarding and schools and more than 50 state Islamic universities, in addition to private Islamic universities, Jusuf said.
This year the event was held at the Istiqlal mosque, Jakarta, from April 17 to 20, with 150 participants from 25 Asia-Pacific countries, and 24 companions from 24 countries taking part, Minister of Religious Affairs, Lukman Hakim Saifuddin said.
"We should be proud because every year we hold this competition in the country," the minister said.