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HomeAustralia Indonesia PartnershipThe Australia-Indonesia Muslim Exchange Program for 2009 from the Australia-Indonesia Institute (AII)

KangGuru Indoneia

The Australia-Indonesia
Muslim Exchange Program

During the past seven years Kang Guru has featured many stories about the Muslim Exchange Program. These have appeared in Kang Guru magazines and on this website and also broadcast in many of the hundreds of radio broadcasts that have gone out across Indonesia. The Australia-Indonesia Muslim Exchange Program is an initiative of the Australia-Indonesia Institute (AII) with support from the Cultural Section and AusAID at the Australian Embassy in Jakarta, the Islamic Council of Victoria, the Asia Institute at the University of Melbourne and Paramadina University.

Australian Muslim leaders - Iman Dandan, Shameema Kolia, Mohammad El-Leissy, Hyder Gulam and Hussam Elmaghraby - visited Indonesia between May 18th and May 31st, 2009.

Jakarta Embassy Press Release (May 29)

Kang Guru Indonesia Latest News and the Australia Indonesia Partnership


Read the Kang GURU Indonesia AusAID - AIP Archives for many more reports about the work, links and ties of the Australia-Indonesia Partnership (AIP), including AusAID, covering the period 2000 to now!

KGI's AusAID in Indonesia Archive Reports

The Australia-Indonesia Muslim Exchange Program 2009

Appreciation for the 2009 Muslim Exchange Program between Australia and Indonesia was highlighted at a function at the home of the Australian Ambassador to Indonesia, Mr. Bill Farmer, in late May. Together with his wife Elaine, Mr Farmer congratulated the five Australian participants on their visit to Indonesia which was drawing to an end. They welcomed alumni of the program from past years including KGI friend Tubagus Erif Faturrahman who went to Australia in October 2004 with the Muslim Exchange Program.

Read about some of the questions that 8 participants in the Muslim Exchange Program gave to Kang Guru before they went overseas AND then check if those questions were answered during their visits.

Australian Participants 2009
(interviewed by KGI)

Iman Dandan
Shameema Kolia
Mohammad El-Leissy
Hyder Gulam
Hussam Elmaghraby


Translations of what they had to say are available in Bahasa Indonesia - check them out!

Indonesian Participants 2009
(interviewed by KGI)

Lalu Ahmad Zaenuri
Samsul Ma'arif Mujiharto
Laili Nur Faridatus Sholihah

Please note that these Indonesian participants are only three of the seven who participated in the 2009 Muslim Exchange Program.

from left: Hussam Elmaghraby, Iman Dandan (front), Shameema Kolia, Sanchi Davis (Cultural Attache), Mr. Bill Farmer (Australian Ambassador), Mohammed El-Leissy and Hyder Gulam


Check in early 2010 for application details for the 2010 Muslim Exchange Program from the Australia indonesia Institute (2009)

These Indonesian participants returned from Australia in mid-April, 2009 -

Herawati - teaching staff at the Al-Aziziyah Islamic Boarding School, Lombok in Mataram
Mujahidah - Committee of the Fatayat Nahdlatul Ulama (NU branch Samarinda, East Kalimantan
Siti Sarah Muwahidah - Ma'arif Institute, and activist of the Islamic Students Association in Yogyakarta
Laili Nur Faridatus Sholihah - Responsible for Community Based Disaster Risk, Management, Nahdlatul Ulama, Jakarta

The final group of 2009 participants will travel to Australia between the 7th and 21st of June. They are -
Cucu Surahman (UIN Jakarta)
M Hasan Basri (CFSS Yogyakarta)
M Subhan Setowara (Muhammadiyah Uni. Kupang)

Read about other Muslim Exchange Alumni from KGI
Tubagus Erif Faturrahman - alumni 2004
Deni Wahyudi Kurniawan - alumni 2007
Nazeem Hussain - alumni 2007


AII and AusAID in Indonesia

Australian Muslim Exchange Participants 2009

Kang Guru interviewed these participants in mid May at the Australian Embassy in Jakarta as they arrived in Indonesia. Read about their plans for their visit and then read to see whether they found out the answers they had come to Indonesia to find out.

Shameema Kolia is from Perth. She is the President of the Muslim Youth Organization in Perth and is involved in a Muslim Womens’ Support center in Perth. It is her first time to Indonesia and  Shameema is keen to meet the people of Indonesia. She feels that this is the way to really get to know a country, the heart of the nation, and how it operates. Working with students from different backgrounds and with different interests and comparing them to students in Australia is a real interest of hers. (Shameema's Bio)

One of the things she really wants to do is to meet young people and find out what motivates them and interests them. It is important for Shameema  to look at the issues faced by young people here in Indonesia and in Australia and compare them to see if they are young people’s issues or young Muslims’ issues. To do this it is important to meet people form all walks of life and by joining the Muslim Exchange Program, she feels this is going to be possible.

Did Shameema find out the answers to her questions while she traveled around Indonesia May 18 - 28?

On May 28th, Shameema spoke once again to KGI in Jakarta -

Shamema visited many classrooms and pesantrens and spoke with many young people. Shameema found out that young people in Indonesia are motivated and excited by the same sorts of things that young Australians are whether they are Muslim or not – sport, asking questions, learning new things, etc. One of the most frequently asked questions was about wearing the hijab – is it worn in Australia, isn’t it banned, why are you wearing one, etc? Quite a few were surprised when they learnt the visiting Australians were actually born Muslim. Shameema feels that these issues indicate that perhaps Indonesian Muslim young people have a narrow perception of what an Australian Muslim is. When her Australian female students in Perth ask Shameema about their counterparts in Indonesia, she is going to tell them that their Indonesian counterparts are much better behaved and more respectful. Shameema also says that young Indonesians, and in particular young Muslim girls are definitely not shy and passive as so many people (in Australia and here in Indonesia) think they are. For Shameema, coming to Indonesia with the Muslim Exchange Program has been a revelation – fantastic!
dalam Bahasa Indonesia


Hyder Gulam is from Melbourne and although he has been to Indonesia before, this is his first time to Java. Has worked in the Middle East and actually grew up in Singapore. He is very keen to see how Islam is practised in Indonesia, the country with the largest Muslim population in the world and with the two largest Muslim organizations in the world – Muhammadiyah and Nahdlatul Ulama. Indonesia is often termed as the smiling face of Islam and Hyder wants to see how Islam has managed to maintain cultural values for the Indonesian people and still grow and flourish in the archipelago. (Hyder's Bio)

Hyder has many Indonesian friends in Australia and has met and chatted with previous Muslim Exchange participants both Australian and Indonesian. These friends and colleagues have all been fascinated by the way Islam is practiced in Australia. It is open and inclusive. Hyder has a real interest in finding out how the two Muslim organizations, Muhammadiyah and Nahdlatul Ulama, maintain grass roots membership and support and provide value added services at the same time. From the view of the Islamic Council of Victoria, it is important to share this expertise and knowledge.

Did Hyder find out the answers to his questions while he traveled around Indonesia May 18 - 28?

On May 28th, Hyder spoke once again to KGI in Jakarta -

Hyder was very impressed by the way that these two Muslim organizations work in their communities – social work, civil society and human rights included. In the case of NU, the work extends to disaster services and in particular Hyder mentioned a young woman called Laili. KGI actually interviewed Laili, also a 2009 Muslim Exchange participant, a few weeks ago at her NU office and she explained in detail the work that she does with her team across Java. Educating communities that natural disasters maybe cannot be stopped bu the effects of them can be tackled and in many cases avoided – for example, landslides do not always have to occur in nature or for that matter dams bursting as well. In general Hyder found both of these Muslim organizations to be very open-minded social organizations. He found them not be dogmatic and quite open to discussion and change.

As for the way that Islam is practiced here, Hyder feels that it is at the forefront in many ways in terms of intellectual pursuits. Schools do teach Arabic and Indonesian and English but they also teach the sciences too including biology. Mechanics is taught too and this is an example of how Islam in Indonesia is working together for the future of Indonesia and the religion itself. Hyder told KGI that he believes that language is the one thing holding which can truly expose Indonesian ideas on Islamic thoughts on subjects such as human rights, tolerance and democracy to the rest of the world. Along with Muhammad and Shameema, Hyder sees Indonesia at the forefront of Islamic though and discussion and with English translations for example, these thoughts can (and should) be shared with the rest of the world. Islam in Indonesia fits in very well with the culture and the two have grown together. Students were amazed when Hyder told them that Muslims in Australia all get on very well even though they are from all corners of the globe. Indonesia's tolerant and gentle way will win out and help Indonesia to develop and grow through education, democracy, economic growth and by decreasing poverty levels.

dalam Bahasa Indonesia

Mohammad El-Leissy is a social worker Centre of Multicultural Youth In Melbourne and his parents originally came to Australia from Egypt. Mohammad works with  newly arrived migrants and refugees to Australia assisting them to settle into their new home. Amongst  other difficulties, language is an obstacle that needs to be addressed by new arrivals.  Mohammad is now in a similar position a she visits Indonesia – his Indonesian language skills are being tested. He told KGI that he cannot speak the language and I basically unaware of local customs. The atmosphere in the streets is different. It is foreign and can be an issue for many new arrivals in Australia too.

A major challenge in Australia right now for Islam is the new wave of migration. Many migrants are from Muslim countries and they all need to find a way to take the Islam from their country and make it fit into their home.  Mohammad believes that he can learn a lot from the way people relate to their religion in Indonesia especially because Islam in Indonesia is not repressive and is free. He is keen to see how Islam in Indonesia is adapting to the modern world and he feels Australia can learn a lot from how this is being done. Mohammad believes Indonesia is coping much better than other countries in this transition to modernity. (Mohammad's Bio)

Did Mohammad find out the answers to his questions while he traveled around Indonesia May 18 - 28?

On May 28th, Mohammad spoke once again to KGI in Jakarta -

Mohammad has had an amazing experience and has found that Islam in Indonesia is definitely not repressive. He feels that the willingness of people to embrace new ideas and to discuss a whole range of ideas including the current discussions centered around Facebook. In fact discussion is being actively encouraged. The perception that Islam in Indonesia is repressive has been truly busted in his view. After visiting educational institutions from universities to remote pesantrens, he sees Islam in Indonesia as leading the world. The teaching of social sciences for example alongside the more traditional Islamic subjects is proof of this. A simpler example is the marching band that greeted Mohammad and his fellow participants at a small pseantren demonstrated clearly that education in Indonesian Islamic institutions is not repressive, passivew or narrow. The students were full of life - inquisitive and responsive. Mohammad will never forget however that these students were quite shocked when the found out that there were actually Muslims in Australia and that they were actually talking to five of them in their own school.

dalam Bahasa Indonesia


Iman Dadan is from Lebanon and migrated to Australia in 1998 as a four year old. One fact that Iman finds quite interesting is that Australia, with just 22 million people, seems to be afraid of a growing population especially if it is through migration or refugees. For Iman, to see Indonesia with its huge population operating so well is a delight.

The seemingly effortless interaction and engagement within society, especially on a day to day level, amazes Iman. She went for a walk in Jakarta her first day after arrival and was amazed at the vision on the streets. It was quite different from Australia – the vast numbers of people, bikes, cars, etc.  Whereas Australia is a mass of rules and regulations, especially for road users, there seems to be none in Indonesia and yet all seems to work smoothly. Personalities are different – lack of aggression in traffic! (Iman's Bio)

Did Iman find out the answers to her questions while she traveled around Indonesia May 18 - 28?

On May 28th, Iman spoke once again to KGI in Jakarta -

Iman was completely amazed by the mosques that she saw here in Indonesia. In Surabaya Iman was fascinated by the largest mosque in that city, Masjid Al-Akbar, plus a Chinese mosque, Masjid Cheng Ho, that she visited.

At the Masjid Al-Akbar mosque Iman was interested in the geometric, mathematical patterns of blue and green tiles used in the main dome and on the three adjacent domes (concaved) and that this huge structure was sitting in the middle of a suburban area and with a church close by. And yet one of the most unexpected and surprising things she saw was the use of a huge drum used as the call to prayer at the Masjid Al-Akbar. Iman certainly had never seen a drum used in this way in Australia. The Chinese mosque, colorful with traditional reds, greens, yellows and blues, was significant for Iman as it clearly shows the mixture of cultures within Islam in Indonesia.

KGI asked Iman about mosques in Australia. In her response Iman said that mosques in Australia are fairly traditional as they have been basically been built by Muslims from other countries and so they strongly reflect the mosques of Turkey and Egypt for example. While traveling around Indonesia Iman really enjoyed the fact that mosques in Indonesia are quite varied and one of the features she absolutely loved was the openness of the structures – no walls for example. They are open and enjoy the sunshine and the light in a very cool and breezy way.

dalam Bahasa Indonesia

Hussam Elmaghraby, a policeman in Australia, was not available for the fist interview with Kang Guru but he was present at the Ambassador’s Residence on the 28th of May and had these things to say about his visit to Indonesia.

One of the reasons Hassam joined the Muslim Exchange program was to see for himself the perception that Indonesians have about the practice of Islam in Australia and the relationship with law enforcement. In fact when he told young Indonesians that he was a policeman there often came a gasp from the audience. They couldn’t quite believe that.

One of the most common questions asked as the group traveled around Indonesia was this – how can a minority group of people in Australia practice Islam. Indonesian university students who have studied in Australia often upon return to Indonesia and talk about how great Islam is in Australia and in particular the relationship between law enforcement and government.

KGI asked Hassam if anything surprised him while in Indonesia? Although not a surprise, Hassam commented that he was really interested to see the young, vibrant and energetic students he met in madrasah and pesantrens across the county. He believes that it is students like these that will break down the stereotypes that are often associated with Muslims in Indonesia. Teachers too, just like many of their students, wondered whether there were actually many Muslims in Australia. And of course there are.

dalam Bahasa Indonesia


Indonesian Muslim Exchange Participants 2009

Lalu Ahmad Zaenuri - Lombok (second from right)

Samsul Ma'arif Mujiharto - Yogyakarta (far right)

Laili Nur Faridatus Sholihah - Jakarta

Did these three Indonesian participants of the 2009 Muslim
Exchange Program find out the answers to their
questions about Australia while they were in Australia?

at the Australian Embassy Jakarta May 1st

These participants were interviewed by Kang Guru Indonesia in early May, 2009 in Jakarta - photograph above shows the departing group with Sanchi Davis, Cultural Attache at the Australian Embassy in Jakarta, and staff member Wati Syamsu.

muslim exchange 2009

Indonesian Muslim Exchange 2009 participants with the Governor General of Australia, Ms. Quentin Bryce.

from left: Umar Faruk Assegaf [MEP Coordinator at Camberra], Lalu Ahmad Zaenuri [MEP Participant from STAIN Mataram], Ms.Quentin Bryce [Governor General of Australia], Dede Syarif [MEP Participant from UIN Bandung], Samsul Ma'arif Mujiharto [MEP Participant from UGM Yogyakarta] and Faqihuddin Abdul Kodir [MEP Guide at Camberra]





Background Information for 2009 Muslim Exchange participants

Mr Hyder Gulam (39, Melbourne)

Executive Member, Islamic Council of Victoria
Associate, Logie-Smith Lanyon (a law firm), Melbourne
Formerly in-house counsel at Department of Defence
Royal Australian Air Force reserve officer
Member, Australian Red Cross International Humanitarian Law Committee
Committee Member, Melbourne City Circle (a Muslim public discussion forum)
Founding member of the Muslim Legal Network
Member of Werribee Islamic Society and UMMA Centre, Melbourne
Registered Nurse

2 Masters degrees in International Law (Melbourne University and ANU), MBA (Southern Cross University), Bachelors degrees in Law (La Trobe University), Nursing (Deakin University), and Arts (Swinburne University).
Interested in Islamic and non-Islamic religious organisations, business and trade, government, education, as well as the media. In particular the role of religion in Indonesia, and the interaction between religion, politics and society in Indonesia: balancing religious plurality. Also interested in AUSAID initiatives; green-house emissions and reducing carbon footprint; the welfare system, and how Indonesia is stimulating its economy, employment and combating poverty (especially re the global financial crisis). Interested in the views of ordinary Indonesians about Australia.

Ms Iman Dandan (27, Sydney)

Volunteer, Bayt al-Zakat (local and international Muslim charity)
Member of Ryde City Council Community Harmony Reference Committee – Advisory and Project Planning
Former President, Sydney University Muslim Students’ Association
Member of Australian Muslim Students Association (MSA) National Advisory Board
Former Office Manager, Lebanese Muslim Association, Sydney
Formerly Community Settlement Services Officer, United Muslim Women’s Association, Sydney
Currently studying bachelors’ degrees in Arts (Religious Studies and Sociology) and Social Work, at Sydney University

Interested in Muslim diversity in the Asia-Pacific, and how Australian Muslim charities could develop relationships with existing charities in the region. Would like to meet a variety of people from universities and government, interested in charity organisations and post-tsunami rebuilding.

Mr Mohammed El-Leissy (24, Melbourne)

Youth Project Officer, Centre for Multicultural Youth, Melbourne
Part-time Imam and preacher
Member, Melbourne Greens political party
In 2008, stood as Greens candidate for Darebin City Council
Member of Victorian Premier’s Advisory Committee on Youth and Multicultural Affairs
Board Member, The Community Radio Federation (Radio 3CR)
Presenter/Producer, The National Security Files (Radio 3CR)
Stand-up comedian (member of Fear of a Brown Planet Muslim comedy trio)
Graduate of Dar al-Ulum Seminary, Melbourne

Currently studying an advanced diploma in Public Relations at Swinburne University, Melbourne
Interested in meeting religious organisations such as Nahdlatul Ulama, and to meet with young people to understand how they negotiate their Islamic identity in a globalised and secular world
Ms Shameema Kolia (27, Perth)

President and founder, Muslim Youth Western Australia
Member, WA Government Ethnic Youth Advisory Group
Youth Co-ordinator, Muslim Women’s Support Centre
Committee Member (formerly Youth Vice-President and Women’s Vice-President), WA Ethnic Communities Council
Member of WA Office of Women’s Policy Women’s Advisory Network

Interested in connecting and networking with Indonesian Muslims and learning about Indonesian culture
Interested in meeting organisations that provide services to young people; interested in education and identity and developing sustainable programs for ‘at-risk’ youth; interested in women’s organisations, gender equity, and the issues faced by Muslim women
Mr Hussam (Sam) Elmaghraby (36, Melbourne)

Australian Federal Police officer
Project Manager, AFP National Community Engagement Strategy
Team Leader, AFP Melbourne Community Liaison Team (formerly Islamic Liaison Team)
Served as an AFP officer in the Solomon Islands
Awarded 2008 Australian Muslim Role Model of the Year, at Mission of Hope’s Australian Muslim Achievement Awards
Bachelors degree in Applied Science (Physical Education), Victoria University; Graduate Diploma in Education (Secondary), Australian Catholic University; Diploma of Policing, Australian Federal Police College

Interested to meet with leaders of major organisations that deal with youth, such as Muhammadiyah; social policy makers in the area of social cohesion and interfaith dialogue; and, law enforcement organisations that are conducting or that would benefit from community engagement, in particular Counter Terrorism units.
Also interested in meeting with Australian NGO’s and sporting organisations to identify and promote opportunities for further international cooperation in improving bi-lateral relationships and highlighting the benefits of community engagement in improving social cohesion.

Indonesian Translations (by Joyce Oei - IALF Bali)


Salah satu hal yang sangat ingin ia lakukan adalah bertemu dengan kaum muda dan mencari tahu apa yang memotivasi mereka dan menarik minat mereka. Penting bagi Shameema untuk memperhatikan masalah-masalah yang dihadapi oleh kaum muda di Indonesia dan di Australia, dan membandingkannya untuk melihat apakah ada masalah kaum muda atau masalah kaum muda Muslim. Untuk melakukan hal ini, penting untuk bertemu orang-orang dari tingkat sosial yang berbeda, dan dengan bergabung bersama Program Pertukaran Muslim, ia merasa hal ini dapat ia capai.

Apakah Shameema mendapatkan jawaban atas pertanyaan-pertanyaannya ketika ia berkeliling Indonesia 18 – 28 Mei?
Tanggal 28 Mei Shameema sekali lagi berbicara kepada KGI di Jakarta –

Shameema mengunjungi banyak kelas dan pesantren, berbicara dengan banyak anak muda. Shameema menemukan bahwa orang muda di Indonesia bermotivasi dan senang dengan hal-hal yang serupa dengan yang disukai anak-anak muda Australia, baik yang Muslim maupun yang bukan, seperti olahraga, mengajukan pertanyaan, mempelajari hal-hal yang baru, dll. Salah satu pertanyaan yang paling sering diajukan adalah tentang pemakaian jilbab – apakah jilbab dipakai di Australia, apakah pemakaian jilbab dilarang, mengapa Shameema memakai jilbab, dll? Tidak sedikit yang terkejut ketika mereka mengetahui bahwa orang-orang Australia yang mengunjungi mereka itu lahir dalam keluarga Muslim. Shameema merasa masalah ini menunjukkan bahwa anak muda Muslim Indonesia memiliki cara pandang yang sempit tentang siapa orang Muslim Australia itu. Ketika siswi-siswi Shameema di Perth, Australia bertanya kepada Shameema tentang rekan-rekan mereka di Indonesia, ia akan memberitahu mereka bahwa rekan-rekan Indonesia mereka berkelakuan lebih baik dan lebih menghormati orang lain. Shameema juga mengatakan bahwa anak muda Indonesia, terutama anak-anak perempuan Muslim, bukan pemalu dan tidak pasif seperti yang banyak orang (di Australia dan di Indonesia) pikir. Bagi Shameema, datang ke Indonesia bersama Program Pertukaran Muslim telah merupakan sebuah penyingkapan – luar biasa!


Hyder memiliki banyak teman dari Indonesia di Australia dan pernah bertemu dan bercakap-cakap dengan para peserta Program Pertukaran Muslim yang sebelumnya, baik yang berkebangsaan Indonesia maupun Australia. Teman-teman dan rekan-rekan kerja ini semuanya terkesan dengan cara agama Islam dipraktekkan di Australia, terbuka dan inklusif. Hyder memiliki minat yang sungguh-sungguh untuk mencari tahu bagaimana dua organisasi Islam, Muhammadiyah dan Nahdlatul Ulama, menjaga keanggotaan akar rumput dan mendukung serta memberikan layanan bernilai tambah pada waktu yang sama. Dari sudut pandang Islamic Council of Victoria, penting membagi keahlian dan pengetahuan ini.

Apakah Hyder mendapatkan jawaban atas pertanyaan-pertanyaannya ketika ia berkeliling Indonesia 18 – 28 Mei?
Tanggal 28 Mei Hyder sekali lagi berbicara kepada KGI di Jakarta –

Hyder sangat terkesan dengan cara kedua organisasi Muslim ini berjalan di lingkungan masyarakat mereka, termasuk pekerjaan sosial, masyarakat sipil dan HAM. Di NU, pekerjaan mereka sampai ke layanan bencana dan Hyder khususnya menyinggung seorang wanita muda bernama Laili. Sebenarnya KGI pernah mewawancarai Laili, yang juga adalah seorang peserta Program Pertukaran Muslim 2009, beberapa minggu lalu di kantornya di NU dan ia menjelaskan dengan rinci pekerjaan yang ia lakukan dengan timnya di seluruh Jawa. Mendidik masyarakat bahwa bencana alam mungkin tidak dapat dihentikan namun pengaruhnya dapat ditangani dan dalam banyak peristiwa dapat dihindari, misalnya tanah longsor tidak selalu harus terjadi secara alami atau hal yang sama bisa berlaku untuk bendungan yang jebol. Pada umumnya Hyder menemukan bahwa kedua organisasi Muslim ini merupakan organisasi sosial yang berpikiran terbuka. Ia menemukan bahwa mereka tidak dogmatis dan terbuka untuk diskusi dan perubahan.

Sementara, mengenai cara mempraktekkan agama Islam di sini, Hyder merasa bahwa agama Islam terdepan dalam banyak hal yang berhubungan dengan pengejaran intelektual. Di sekolah-sekolah bahasa Arab, Indonesia dan Inggris diajarkan, termasuk sains termasuk biologi. Mekanika juga diajarkan dan ini merupakan sebuah contoh bagaimana agama Islam di Indonesia bekerja sama demi masa depan Indonesia dan agama itu sendiri. Hyder memberitahu KGI ia percaya bahwa bahasa adalah satu-satunya hal yang menahan kaum Muslim Indonesia mengungkapkan pemikiran mereka tentang topik-topik seperti HAM dan demokrasi. Seperti Mohammad dan Shameema, Hyder melihat bahwa Indonesia akan berada di baris depan pemikiran-pemikiran dan diskusi Islam, dan dengan terjemahan misalnya, pemikiran-pemikiran ini dapat (dan hendaknya) dibagikan kepada seluruh dunia. Islam di Indonesia sangat cocok dengan budayanya dan keduanya telah berkembang bersama-sama. Para siswa kagum ketika Hyder memberitahu mereka bahwa kaum Muslim di Australia semuanya hidup dengan damai walaupun mereka berasal dari seluruh penjuru dunia. Cara Indonesia yang toleran dan halus akan menang dan membantu Indonesia berkembang dan tumbuh melalui pertumbuhan ekonomi dan mengurangi tingkat kemiskinan.


Mohammad El-Leissy

Mohammad El-Leissy adalah seorang pekerja sosial dari Centre of Multicultural Youth (Pusat Kaum Muda Multibudaya) di Melbourne dan orangtuanya datang ke Australia dari Mesir. Mohammad bekerja dengan para migran dan pengungsi yang baru datang di Australia, membantu mereka menetap di rumah mereka yang baru. Di antara kesulitan lain, bahasa adalah rintangan yang perlu diatasi oleh pendatang baru ini. Mohammad sekarang berada dalam posisi yang serupa ketika ia berkunjung ke Indonesia – kemampuannya berbahasa Indonesia sedang diuji. Ia memberitahu KGI bahwa ia tidak dapat berbicara bahasa Indonesia dan tidak tahu-menahu kebiasaan setempat. Suasana di jalan berbeda, asing dan dapat menjadi masalah bagi banyak pendatang baru di Australia juga.

Tantangan besar di Australia sekarang bagi agama Islam adalah gelombang baru migrasi. Banyak migran berasal dari negara Islam dan mereka semua perlu mencari jalan untuk membawa agama Islam keluar dari negara mereka dan menyesuaikannya sehingga pas di rumah mereka. Mohammad yakin ia dapat belajar banyak dari cara orang berhubungan dengan agama mereka di Indonesia terutama karena agama Islam di Indonesia tidak represif dan bebas. Ia ingin melihat bagaimana Islam di Indonesia beradaptasi dengan dunia modern dan ia merasa Australia dapat belajar banyak dari hal ini. Mohammad yakin Indonesia menghadapi transisi menuju modernitas jauh lebih baik daripada negara lain.

Apakah Mohammad mendapatkan jawaban atas pertanyaan-pertanyaannya ketika ia berkeliling Indonesia 18 – 28 Mei?
Tanggal 28 Mei Mohammad sekali lagi berbicara kepada KGI di Jakarta –

Mohammad telah mendapatkan pengalaman yang mengagumkan dan menemukan bahwa agama Islam di Indonesia sama sekali tidak represif. Ia merasa bahwa kemauan masyarakat untuk menerima ide-ide yang baru dengan tangan terbuka dan mendiskusikan berbagai ide termasuk diskusi-diskusi saat ini terpusat pada Facebook. Malahan, masyarakat didorong untuk berpartisipasi aktif dalam diskusi. Persepsi bahwa Islam di Indonesia represif benar-benar salah. Setelah mengunjungi beberapa institusi pendidikan dari universitas sampai pesantren terpencil, ia menganggap Islam di Indonesia sedang memimpin dunia. Pengajaran ilmu pengetahuan sosial misalnya, berdampingan dengan mata pelajaran Islam yang tradisional, adalah buktinya. Contoh yang lebih sederhana adalah sebuah marching band yang menyambut Mohammad dan rekan-rekan pesertanya di sebuah pesantren kecil menunjukkan dengan jelas bahwa pendidikan di insitusi Islam Indonesia tidak represif, pasif, atau sempit. Para siswa amat menikmati kehidupan mereka – penasaran dan responsif. Namun Mohammad tidak akan pernah lupa ketika para siswa ini agak terkejut ketika mereka mengetahui ada kaum Muslim di Australia dan sebenarnya mereka sedang berbicara dengan 5 dari antara kaum Muslim Australia di sekolah mereka sendiri.

Iman Dadan

Iman Dadan berasal dari Lebanon dan pindah ke Australia pada 1998 ketika masih berumur empat tahun. Satu hal yang menarik bagi Iman adalah bahwa Australia, dengan hanya 22 juta orang, kelihatannya takut akan pertumbuhan penduduk, terutama jika penduduk itu adalah kaum imigran atau pengungsi. Bagi Iman, melihat Indonesia dengan penduduknya yang banyak namun tetap berjalan dengan baik sangatlah menyenangkan.

Interaksi dan keterlibatan di dalam masyarakat yang kelihatannya tidak sulit, terutama dalam kehidupan sehari-hari, membuat Iman kagum. Ia jalan-jalan di Jakarta hari pertama setelah tiba di sana dan kagum melihat jalan-jalan Jakarta. Jakarta sangat berbeda dengan Australia – banyaknya orang, sepeda motor, mobil, dll. Sementara di Australia terdapat begitu banyak aturan dan peraturan, terutama bagi pengguna jalan, kelihatannya tidak ada aturan di Indonesia dan toh semuanya berjalan dengan lancar. Kepribadian orang Indonesia berbeda – tidak ada begitu banyak orang yang agresif di jalan raya!

Apakah Iman mendapatkan jawaban atas pertanyaan-pertanyaannya ketika ia berkeliling Indonesia 18 – 28 Mei?
Tanggal 28 Mei Iman sekali lagi berbicara kepada KGI di Jakarta –

Iman benar-benar kagum dengan masjid-masjid yang ia lihat di Indonesia. Di Surabaya Iman tertegun melihat masjid terbesar di kota itu, Masjid Al-Akbar, dan sebuah masjid Tiong Hoa, Masjid Cheng Ho, yang ia kunjungi.

Di Masjid Al-Akbar Iman tertarik pada keramik berwarna biru dan hijau berpola geometris dan matematik yang digunakan di kubah utama dan di tiga kubah cekung lain yang berjejer. Bangunan ini berdiri di tengah-tengah wilayah kota, dengan sebuah gereja di dekatnya. Hal yang paling mengherankan yang ia lihat adalah sebuah gentong besar yang dipakai untuk memanggul jemaah untuk bersembahyang di Masjid Al-Akbar. Iman tidak pernah melihat gentong seperti ini dipakai di Australia. Masjid Tiong Hoa itu, berwarna-warni dengan merah, hijau, kuning dan biru, amat nyata bagi Iman karena itu menunjukkan dengan jelas bauran budaya di dalam Islam di Indonesia.

KGI bertanya kepada Iman tentang masjid-masjid di Australia. Dalam jawabannya Iman mengatakan bahwa masjid-masjid di Australia agak tradisional karena dibangun oleh kaum Muslim dari negara lain sehingga masjid-masjid di Australia sangat mirip dengan masjid-masjid di Turki dan Mesir, misalnya. Ketika berkeliling Indonesia Iman sangat senang melihat masjid-masjid yang berbeda-beda dan salah satu fitur yang sangat ia sukai adalah struktur bangunannya yang terbuka – tidak berdinding misalnya. Masjid-masjid itu terbuka dan sinar matahari serta angin segar berhembus masuk ke dalamnya.

Hussam Elmaghraby

Hussam Elmaghraby, seorang polisi di Australia, tidak sempat mengikuti wawancara pertama dengan KGI, tetapi ia hadir di Kediaman Dubes Australia pada 28 Mei dan di bawah ini adalah hal-hal yang ia katakan tentang kunjungannya ke Indonesia.

Salah satu alasan Hassam bergabung dengan Program Pertukaran Muslim adalah untuk melihat sendiri persepsi yang orang Indonesia miliki tentang praktek agama Islam di Australia dan hubungannya dengan penegakan hukum. Ketika ia memberitahu anak muda Indonesia bahwa dia adalah seorang polisi, mereka sering bergumam tidak percaya.

Salah saatu pertanyaan yang paling sering ditanyakan ketika grup itu berkeliling Indonesia adalah ini – bagaimana sekelompok minoritas di Australia bisa menjalankan agama Islam. Ketika kembali ke Indonesia mahasiswa/i Indonesia yang pernah kuliah di Australia sering berbicara tentang betapa hebat agama Islam di Australia dan khususnya hubungan antara penegakan hukum dan pemerintah.

KGI bertanya kepada Hassam apakah ada yang membuat ia heran ketika ia di Indonesia. Walaupun tidak heran, Hassam mengomentari bahwa ia sangat tertarik melihat para siswa yang muda, bersemangat dan enerjik yang ia temui di madrasah dan pesantren di negeri ini. Ia percaya bahwa siswa-siswa seperti inilah yang akan mengubah stereotipe yang sering dihubungkan dengan kaum Muslim di Indonesia. Para guru juga, sama seperti banyak siswa mereka, bertanya-tanya apakah sebenarnya ada banyak orang Muslim di Australia. Dan tentu saja ada.



Samsul Ma'arif Mujiharto - Yogyakarta

How does the Australian government manage the very wide diversity of religions, cultures and languages in Australia? He is interested in how minority groups handle their situation in Australia society especially because he is a member of a majority group here in Indonesia –Javanese and Muslim.

I saw the Australian government has been tried to manage multicultural society very well. They have a systematic umbrella concerning specifically on how to prepare every migrant to deal with Australian society. I could see this atmosphere soon after my meeting with some minority groups [Muslim groups].

Meeting with them I am impressed that they can live in harmony with the major group. In this case, Indonesian government should learn from the neighbor. I also found, however, some indigenous people [as the minority] still did not sufficient with the government services regarding to the war after British arrival to Australia. I am sure, under a great policy on maintaining multiculturalism, Australia will be a mirror for other countries whose similar conditions.

Lalu Ahmad Zaenuri is from Mataram

Lalu Ahmad Zaenuri is from Mataram where he is a Lecturer at the Fac.of Dakwah, IAIN Mataram, and PhD candidate at the State Islamic University (UIN) Syarif Hidayatullah. Lalu is actively involved with activities in Pondok Pesantren Nurul Hakim, Lombok Barat, Mataram. He is also one of committee member of Majelis Dakwah Islamiyah (MDI) Jakarta, for international relations.

How is the relationship between Muslim and other cultures and religions in Australia? How do they seem to keep it so peaceful and harmonious?

I am very happy because I am really know your country (Australia) is a multicultural country in the world. I find there very good relationships between other cultures, ethnics, religion and other backrounds. Some time, I find my life like in Middle East because my friend come from Arab and I get Arab's food in my dinner or in lunch. Some time Ifind my life like in Thailand or other Asian country because I meet with them, or in Africa because I speak with them. I am very very happy Kevin with my experience.

My best experience was when I visit Bremer Chatolic Collage or King Khlalid School in Melbourne. How the school can build the understanding between other religions to their student. They make many-many activities, example sport together (foot ball, tennis, etc), study tour to other school (visiting). in my mind, this is the best method to build multicultural in society. I hope, we can do this experience in Indonesia, especially in Lombok. We have many Islamic boarding schools in Lombok andwe try to promote this method. For future, we try to visit other example Islamic school do visit to Hindu's or Christian school. We start from elementry school, and we get good relationship in future.

I am also hope to Australian goverment and citizen to promote Indonesian Islamic culture, because I know that media have asserted that Indonesia (Southeast Asian Islam) is undergoing significant change. Increasingly, Islam in the region is regarded as experiencing a rapid process of radicalization-worse still, the Muslim in Indonesia is now percieved by some as a potential "hotbed of terrorism" or Islam in Indonesia was identified with Abu bakar Ba'asyir. This is not true because my self and all friend come to Australia and bring the truly Islam Indonesia. For this reason I am coming, and this is good opportunity to know them about Islam and how we build and our goverment multiculturlal between majority and minority in Indonesia.

Thank you - Lalu Ahmad Zaenuri form Lombok (email sent to KGI May 25th)

Laili Nur Faridatus Sholihah - Nahdlatul Ulama in Jakarta

Laili is originally from Jember but has worked in Jakarta for 10 years. Laili is also a part time lecturer and teacher trainer. Her work with Nahdlatul Ulama is pesatren-based with 9 pilot projects underway in places such as Jember, Cilicap, Tuban and Pacitan.

Her main task is to educate people in those pesantrens about natural disasters. Many NU community-members and their leaders think that disasters are given by God. However Laili and her team try to show these communities that not all disasters come from God and that there is a lot people can do to stop such so called natural disasters. Flood, fire and more recently dams bursting can actually be prevented. Being aware of their environment is important – risk management is needed. People can also be educated as to what to do after such a disaster happens so as to reduce the losses. Changing peoples’ beliefs is not an easy task but special methodology is available to assist with this huge task.

Laili has just returned from Australia as a participant of the 2009 Muslim Exchange Program. KGI asked Laili what is so special about the program and her response was that the exchange allows people to meet a wide variety of people. Laili met with Muslims in Australia along with members of the Jewish, Christian and Catholic faiths.

Laili knew Australia was a multi-cultural country before she went but was absolutely amazed by the high level of that diversity – 200 different countries – and by the fact that there are so many Muslims in Australia who actively contribute to the development of the country.

Laili Nur Faridatus Sholihah is the Project Officer for the Community Based Disaster Risk Reduction (indo translation) program at Nahdlatul Ulama in Jakarta.

NU Jakarta

Indonesian Muslim Exchange Participant 2004

Tubagus Erif Faturrahman went to Australia in October 2004. He was a participant in the Muslim Leader Exchange Program sponsored by the Australia Indonesia Institute (AII). Bagus was born in Banten in 1974 and is now the Head of International Relations in HMI or the Islamic Students Association based in Jakarta. Why did he join this exchange program? Bagus was concerned that Australians and Indonesian stereotype each other. This basically means that they have ideas about each other that are not necessarily true. Some of his ideas about Australia were quickly dispelled when he visited Australia. Bagus told KGRE in January 2005 that he was quite surprised what he found out about Aussies.

".... they are very good. Frankly speaking we are very surprised about their lives, about multicultural Australia. There was bad news in Indonesia that Moslem people in Australia are discriminated against by the government, by the people in Australia".

Bagus soon found out that this was not correct. Bagus spent a lot of time talking with Aussies including Australian Muslims. Many of the Muslims he met were Indonesians.They talked about religious life in Indonesia and then compared Muslim life in Indonesia and Australia. They told him that wearing traditional dress such as a jilbab is not a problem for the women. Halal food is freely available in most areas. Universities have mosques and prayer areas. The truth, according to Bagus, is that Australian life is very good and Muslims in Australia are fully accepted. Bagus and his three colleagues met with many student groups in Australian universities. The students asked many questions. Australian students wanted to know what Indonesian people thought about Australia. Bagus responded honestly and said that one third of Indonesian people have some stereotyped ideas about Australia because they don't really know much about how Australians live. Often they just know the negative news that they read in newspapers or see on television. Bagus says that is the same for Australians too. Some Australians don't know the full story about Indonesia because they often do not get the correct or full story.

Tubagus Erif Faturrahman


Australia Indonesia Muslim Exchange 2007

Do you enjoy meeting people from other places? Perhaps talking about your community and your life — comparing and learning, right? People meeting with people from other countries and exchanging views and information is so important too. Deni Wahyudi Kurniawan, from Garut, has been a Kang Guru-ite for many years. He was lucky enough to visit Australia in 2007 with the Muslim Exchange Program. He is currently Secretary General of Muhammadiyah Junior Youth Association. He studies at Syarif Hidayatullah University in Jakarta.

Building strong people to people links is an important goal of the Muslim Exchange program and by meeting local Aussie Muslims Deni learnt many interesting things. Kang Guru asked Deni about the most common question he has been asked since returning. He is often asked this question, ‘What rights do Australian Muslims have compared to other religions’? His answer? It doesn’t matter what people's religious beliefs are, they have the same rights and opportunities as everyone else and these are strongly upheld by the government. One other of Deni's observations was the plurality of the Australian Muslim community with people from Africa, the Middle East, Asia and Europe.

Deni - Muslime Exchange Program


Nazeem Hussain is young, an Aussie, and one of the five members of the 2007 Muslim Exchange Program who visited Indonesia in 2007. He is a very busy man back home in Oz. In Australia he is -

  • a full time student studying a double degree in Law and Science
  • a Director for the Islamic Council of Victoria
  • the President of the Islamic Society at his university, and
  • a presenter on Salam Café, a weekly television comedy program.

Why did Nazeem join the 2007 Muslim Exchange Program? Nazeem told KGI it was simple: he got to travel to Indonesia, the largest Muslim country in the world.

Nazeem with students in Indonesia


And what did he see in Indonesia that amazed him?

While in Indonesia , Nazeem and his co-participants visited Jakarta, Yogyakarta and Sukabumi. In Sukabumi they witnessed the opening of a new pesantren school constructed with assistance from AusAID's Basic Education Program. He says it was the nicest thing he has ever done. The young SMP students were so excited and fantastic. They thought the visiting Aussies were superstars. Nazeem said, ‘The students knew that some Aussies were coming to visit their school and probably expected us to be white but they were doubly surprised to see our dark skin AND that we were Muslim too’. Big surprise!

The most interesting thing was to experience Islam being practiced in a moderate fashion and not as hard-lined as perceptions of Indonesia might indicate in the media in Australia. As for the future, he will no doubt be a lawyer one day but his interest in Salam Café is quite strong too. This popular television show provides a look at the lives of ordinary Muslims in Australia showing that they are in fact normal, happy people who are educated, enjoy things like football and like to crack a joke – it is both a serious and humorous look at life of Aussie Muslims. Ninety five percent of viewers are non-Muslim, the target audience. In 2006 the television program won Program of the Year at the Australian Community Television Awards. Café Salam has a website www.salamcafe.com.au Check the site out and see what it is all about.



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