Jakarta — Indonesian religious leaders on Tuesday (11/07) kicked off the first Indonesia-Singapore Interfaith and Intercultural Dialogue (INSID) with their Singaporean counterparts in Singapore. INSID, organized as part of a series commemorating the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Indonesia and Singapore, is expected to improve people-to-people relations between the two Southeast Asian nations. From July 11 to July 14, participants will engage in open discussions and public dialogues. They will also visit Hindu Endowments Board, the Islamic Religious Council of Singappore, the Mahakuruna Buddhist Society and the Church of St. Mary of the Angels. The Indonesian Ambassador to Singapore Ngurah Swaja said in a statement that ISID aims to increase cooperation between citizens of both countries, especially in light of increasing threats faced by the global community from extremism and radicalism. The issue of religious extremism and conflict were also raised by Indonesian Religious Affairs Minister Lukman Hakim Saifudien, who in his keynote speech on Tuesday laid out the challenges coming from fast-paced globalization and digitalization and how they can affect religious values. According to a statement released by the Indonesian Foreign Affairs Ministry, Lukman said in spite of the great progress brought about by technology and digitalization, they could also potentially cause a shift in the way people understand or learn religions. “Digitalization should support educational efforts to help the public understand the values taught by religions,” Lukman said. He also spoke of the challenges faced by religious leaders and heads of states to revive the essence of all religions: to honor and respect all human beings. “Many people now try to use religions to help them come up as victors in a conflict. Then they use religions again to justify their victory,” Lukman added. The Singaporean Social and Family Development Minister Tan Chuan-jin also gave a speech at the start of the four-day interfaith exchange program, and urged individuals to engage with each other. “Religions or cultures don’t enter into dialogue – people do. Government can support dialogue, morally and financially, but in the end it’s up to the individuals to engage each other,” Tan said. He added that those who do not affiliate themselves to any religion should also be included in such dialogues. ISID will be officially closed on Friday (14/07) by Indonesian Deputy Foreign Minister A.M. Fachir and Singaporean Coordinating Minister Infrastructure and Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan.