CAIRO - Praising religious freedoms and respect of minority rights in the world's most populous Muslim country, British Prime Minister David Cameron said Wednesday, April 12, that Indonesia gives an example that Islam and democracy are compatible.
"What Indonesia shows is that in the world's largest Muslim-majority country, it is possible to reject this extremist threat and prove that democracy and Islam can flourish alongside each other, Cameron said in a speech to students at Al-Azhar University in Jakarta cited by the London Evening Standard.
"That's why what you are doing here is so important, because it gives heart to those around the world who are engaged in the same struggle."
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Cameron, who arrived in Jakarta on Wednesday on his last leg of an Asian trip, said some extremists were trying to show that Islam promotes authoritarianism.
"Let me be absolutely clear: I am not talking about Islam. Islam is a religion observed peacefully and devoutly by over a billion people," said Cameron, who met with President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono in Jakarta as part of efforts to deepen links with Indonesia's fast-growing economy
"And let me also be clear: extremism is not only found among Muslims.
"But there is a problem across the globe with Islamist extremism which is a political ideology supported by a minority.
The British premier said some extremists were seeking to impose a radical view on their society to exclude all others.
"And this total rejection of debate and democratic consent means they believe that democracy and Islam are incompatible, he said.
"From Afghanistan to Iraq and from Bali to London, we have seen all too often that this extremism feeds prejudice, persecution and dreadful acts of terror and violence.
"These extremists try to turn Islam into a closed and warped ideology that is opposed to democracy.
Indonesia is the world's most populous Muslim state with Muslims making up around 85 percent of its 237-million population.
Christians, both Protestants and Catholics, make up nearly 12 percent of the country's population.
Cameron believes that the rise of Islamist groups to power through elections promotes the view that Islam and democracy are compatible.
"In Egypt, it is vitally important to ensure that the democratic success of the Muslim Brotherhood's party strengthens democracy and does not in the end undermine it, he said.
The Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party won most seats in Egypt's first parliamentary election since the ouster of president Hosni Mubarak last year.
The Brotherhood, which was suppressed under Mubarak, is also fielding a candidate to Egypt's presidential election, set for May.
"The choice of the Egyptian people must be respected and we must all be ready to work with the government that the Egyptian people elect, Cameron said.
"But at the same time we will demand that in pursuing their political views the elected government is not denying the rights of citizenship to those who do not share their specific religious views.
"So the world will expect them to live up to the commitments they have made to protect the rule of law for all citizens to defend the rights of the Coptic Christians and minority groups and to accept that democracy means they will be held accountable in the courts and that they should not pervert the democratic process to hold on to power, should the will of the people change."The Muslim Brotherhood has repeatedly stressed abidance by democratic principles and respect of rights of minorities.
Reproduced with permission from OnIslam.net