Students and staff of an Islamic boarding school in Indonesia's Yogyakarta held special prayers to mark the Sept. 11 terrorist attack overnight Sunday, hoping better understanding among religions will lead to peace.
Attended by dozens of students and teachers, the Pesantren ( Islamic boarding school) Nawesea's "Prayer Night to Commemorate Sept. 11" began in the late afternoon on the Opak River bank in Wukirsari village, Bantul regency, the Jakarta Post daily reported on Monday.
Before the prayers began, students fished in the river and made speeches.
Nawesea, is the first pesantren in Indonesia to use English as its official language of instruction. The school is under the management of the Nawesea Foundation, which also runs Islamic study centers in North America, Western Europe and other countries in Southeast Asia.
"We are certainly small, but we want to voice our big hopes. We want to make this moment a point that will lead to peace on earth, " the school's executive director, Yudian W. Asmin, was quoted as saying.
Yudian said the world's political leaders should make the Sept. 11 tragedy a starting point to settling their differences.
"Peace is sometimes built out of violence and conflict," he said.
The prayers were to send out the message that many Muslims in the world did not want to see religiously motivated violence continue to widen, he said.
"It should be fully understood (by the West) that not all Muslims are involved in terror actions. There are many among Muslim community, including us in Nawesea, who fight against terrorism," he said.
Asked about the discrimination American Muslims have complained of since Sept. 11 in the United States, Yudian said the U.S. government should "act wisely".
He praised U.S. President George W. Bush's act of visiting mosques and inviting Muslim ulema to the White House prior to the Islamic fasting month of Ramadhan.
"We believe that as a nation, America is wise, and a quick learner as well. It can quickly learn from the past, so that it does not repeat the same mistakes," he said.
"We want people in the U.S. to hear us; our voice from afar; our aspirations that (Sept. 11) will be the bridge to lead us to peace."