An API fellow giving a lecture on the moderate-Islam movement [2008/06/02]
Dicky Sofjan, an Indonesian fellow
The Nippon Foundation Fellowships for Asian Public Intellectuals (API Fellowship Program), is a fellowship started by the Nippon Foundation in 2000 to develop the human resources needed to address various problems facing Asia. On April 8th, the program held a seminar in the Nippon Zaidan Building in Tokyo. Dicky Sofjan, an Indonesian fellow, gave a lecture entitled, "The Sound of Silence: Moderate Muslims' Response to 9-11 and the War on Terrorism." The program intends to continue to provide fellows with similar opportunities to present their research results to the public.
The scholarship project is operated by five countries: Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Thailand. A total of 30 fellows (six from each country) carry out research activities in another of the group's countries every year. Mr. Sofjan is one of the seventh batch of fellows, and comes from Indonesia. At present, he is based at the Center for Southeast Asian Studies in Kyoto University, one of the cooperating research institutes. He earned his doctorate from the National University of Singapore in 2006 and conducted a survey of more than 1,000 Muslims in Indonesia and Iran last year before authoring the text, Why Muslims Participate in Jihad.
The theme of the lecture was "The Sound of Silence: Moderate Muslims' Response to 9-11 and the War on Terrorism." In his lecture, Mr. Sofjan pointed out that, in recent years, the Muslim populations in Europe and the United States have dramatically increased due to factors including high birthrate, immigration, and conversion. The Muslim population is expected to exceed that of the Jews in the United States by 2010. He also reported various perspectives on the current situation in which moderate Muslims, who aim to coexist with Christians and Jews, represent a clear majority of those practicing Islam, yet have been silenced by Muslim extremists.
The speaker referred to Islam's negative image and stated, "While the original Islamic teachings are progressive, Muslims are not necessarily socially advanced. For example, the low status of women in Muslim society is a controversial issue and can fundamentally be solved by pursuing justice according to the original doctrines of Islam."
When an audience member asked what would happen if Barack Obama was elected President of the United States, he said, "Islamic countries have a strong distrust of the United States, which uncritically supports Israel. If Mr. Obama is elected, the conventional concept that there is false democracy in the Unites States will disappear and be replaced by trust. At the very least, his approval rating would be 100 percent in Indonesia, where he grew up."（Photo: Discussion with the audiences）