Remarks by Ambassador Blake at Senior Muslim Leaders Iftar Dinner, Jakarta

Selamat Malam dan Ramadan Karim. 

Distinguished guests, friends, and colleagues:

We are here tonight on the occasion of Ramadan to celebrate the breaking of the fast, one of the most sacred and joyful rituals of Islam.

For the past week, Muslims in the United States, in Indonesia, and around the world have been breaking the fast together, and in communion with other faiths, in order to celebrate our common humanity and the universal values of peace, charity, community and family.  For Muslims everywhere, Ramadan is a time to reflect upon the importance of discipline, devotion, humility and sacrifice, and to reaffirm the bonds that draw communities together.

In this spirit, I wanted to host this occasion to celebrate the friendship between the United States and Indonesia’s strong, vibrant, and diverse Muslim community.  Throughout the year, you have welcomed us into your homes and offices, worked with our officers and local staff, engaged in dialogue with us on a broad range of foreign policy questions, and helped us understand how to have a stronger and fuller relationship with the Indonesian people.   For this we wish to offer our sincere thanks.

We remain committed to strengthening our relationship over the coming years.  Under President Obama we are undertaking, as a nation, a “rebalance to Asia.”  A big part of this rebalance is our commitment to Indonesia, as exemplified by our Comprehensive Partnership.  We put a high value on this strong relationship because Indonesia is not only the world’s fourth largest country, third largest democracy, and one of the fastest growing economies in the world.

It is a success story, and time and again demonstrates leadership on a host of vital issues from promoting tolerance and understanding to counter those who promote violence and extremism;  to contributing a significant and growing number of troops to UN peacekeeping operations; to giving assistance to Rohingya refugees.

One of the key drivers of this success is the profound commitment of Indonesia’s vast Muslim population to the values and principles of Islam under the leadership of  all of you, the great Muslim scholars, leaders, Imams, politicians, and thought leaders we have here tonight.   It is because of these values that we believe Indonesia can and should play a leading role, not just in the Muslim world, but everywhere, on promoting peace and tolerance.   Indonesian Islam—whether you are a traditionalist or modernist, a liberal or a conservative—is characterized by its tolerance, intelligence, piety, and wisdom.   Indonesian Islam helped drive the growth of this vibrant, democratic society in which you live today, and for that reason, I encourage you to share it with the world.

Of course both of our countries face challenges.   From intolerance, to corruption, to unemployment and poverty—all factors that contribute to the breakdown of understanding between peoples, between religions, and which sometimes cause the young and the disaffected to turn to radical alternatives.  But our countries also have shared values of tolerance, justice, integrity, and peace; values embodied by Indonesian Islam.   So on behalf of the United States, I want to thank you for your friendship, and I look forward to working with you, the leaders of the Indonesian Islamic community, as we tackle the problems of tomorrow.

Selamat Malam dan Selamat Berbuka Puasa.

As prepared.