Wahid Foundation (formerly known as Wahid Institute, download here) was launched on September 7, 2004, at the Four Seasons Hotel in Jakarta. It was founded during a time when the world has not yet healed from the pain and panic caused by the 11/9/2001 tragedy in New York, and when Indonesia had been experiencing numerous outbreaks of communal violence triggered by disputes in the name of religion or ethnic identity. Violent incidents broke out all around the country and touching even the nation’s big cities.
Even though Indonesia’s democratic transition began with legal reforms in 1998 followed by free elections in 1999 the outbreak of communal violence made it clear that the deep cultural principles of democracy were not yet embedded in Indonesian society. Many factors were in play, but one of the most important was the role of religion – Islam in particular in the world’s largest Muslim country – which in combination with ethnic identity that has long been instrumental molding cultures and shaping society. All the while, the world as a whole was full of fear caused by violence and terrorist acts.
Wahid Foundation was established to advance the humanitarian vision of KH Abdurrahman Wahid (Gus Dur) in advancing the development of tolerant, multicultural, society in Indonesia, improving the welfare of the poor, building democracy and fundamental justice, and expanding the values of peace and non-violence in Indonesia and throughout the world.
At both a regional and global level, Wahid Foundation facilitates dialogue and the building of understanding between Muslims and other religions and cultures, including between those living in the Muslim world and those living in the West. In Indonesia, Wahid Foundation fosters the emergence of promising young thinkers and activists to realize the commitment and vision of Gus Dur. Wahid Foundation organizes education events for youth, capacity building for Muslim clerics to generate cross-religions, cross-cultural, and cross-ethnics dialogue, and assists and promotes them to actively participate in the process of building economic welfare and justice and good governance.