Cameron urges Muslim Brotherhood, other Islamists to learn from Indonesia

April 13, 2012

(Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron inspects an honour guard during a welcoming ceremony at the presidential palace in Jakarta April 11, 2012. REUTERS/Supri )

Indonesia’s respect for democracy and minority religious groups should serve as an example for other Muslim nations, British Prime Minister David Cameron said in a speech in Jakarta, capital of the world’s most populous Muslim country.

Cameron called on groups such as Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, which has a conservative vision of Islam, to look to Indonesia’s for tips on nation building following the Arab Spring that toppled long-time Middle Eastern autocrats.

“What Indonesia is showing is that it is possible to develop a democracy and a modern economy that neither compromises people’s security nor their ability to practise their religion,” Cameron said, according to an advance text of his speech.

“This has huge implications for others seeking the same fundamental freedoms in places like Egypt, Iran and Syria.”

While most of Indonesia’s Muslims are moderate and the country is technically secular, it also faces Islamic militancy and a rising tide of conservatism, which could push regions with large Christian populations to try to break away.

Members of the Southeast Asian militant group Jemaah Islamiah were convicted of bombings on the Indonesian resort island of Bali in 2002 that killed more than 200 people.

Despite this, Britain considers Indonesia “one of the most stable, open democracies in Asia”.

Cameron also took a swipe at corruption, which still blights Indonesia, and authoritarian rule, from which the country only recently escaped after decades of iron leadership under former President Suharto.

Indonesia is model for Muslims – Cameron.

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