The first speaker was Radj Bhondoe, for a long time, consultant with Cordaid, the Catholic Development Organization, but now president of the Hindu Union in the Netherlands and also with a Hindu organization. He blamed the media in the West for giving so much attention to aggressive acts by Hindus and not by Christians. India and Hindus in India have given shelter to Ahmadis who fled from Pakistan, to Zoroastrian refugees from Iran, to Buddhists from Tibet. So, Hindus can be very tolerant and helpful. In Orissa some time ago a Christian missionary, working for lepers, was killed. But the press does not mention that this also was active in conversion work, not following the rules of Indian society that one has to respect other religions. Of course, this killing cannot be defended. But, when two years later a Hindu Swami who built primary schools in Orissa was killed, the Western press remained silent.
Bhondoe also stressed that much money given for the fight against leprosy to Sister Teresa, was not spent for medical puporses, but for missionizing. Swamis who fight against leprosy also are less successful in finding funds in Western countries.
The two ladies representing the Islamic Relief. The one in the left is probably Surinam-Muslim, judging from the name of Rahman. The one on the right looks like a non-Muslim, but still is an official in this organization. About language and denomination!
Jasper Slob gave an overview of the situation in indonesia (in ten minutes only; this was more a short conference of orientation than a thorough debate of practical problems). He sketched the situation of Christians in a transition from first class citizens (due to colonial privileges, better education, high position in the bureaucracy) towards second class citizens, because now they have often less right than the Muslim majority. Salafi Islam is growing, but among Christians aggressive preachers are also more successful than moderate classical churches.
Ward Berenschot pictured how Pancasila now again is popular with liberal Muslims and Christians. In the late Soeharto period it was identified as a cover up for political oppression (Pancasila wants harmony, no opposition). Now Pancasila again is the banner fro defenders of pluralism.
He promoted that development organizations should not neglect religious issues, because they are so important in countries like India and Indonesia. Human rights, gender equality, economic progress: it all has a religious dimension and that must be taken serious by all people who want to promote a better and just society.