REPUBLIKA.CO.ID, MATARAM - A Muslim cleric from Baltimore, the US, Muhammad Bashar Arafat, is in Lombok, in West Nusa Tenggara province to visit a number of Islamic boarding schools to inform about Islam development in his country. "Besides this school there are other schools that he will also visit during his two and a half days in Lombok," US Surabaya consulate general public relations officer, Emily Yasmin Norris, said after a dialog meeting at Darul Falah boarding school in Pagutan, Mataram, on Saturday.
The US Surabaya consulate general has facilitated his visit to Lombok and Sumbawan islands from Saturday to Wednesday, which will be followed by a visit to Solo, Central Java, and other cities in Indonesia. While in West Nusa Tenggara Arafat who is the founder and chief of the Civilizations Exchange and Cooperation Foundation (CECF) is flanked by the director of information center of the consulate, Christian Natamado Simanullang.
In the dialog at Darul Falah Arafat had told about the development of Islam in the US. He said US citizens` view on Islam in Indonesia varied including negative view on terrorism and positive view on unifying Islam in Indonesia.
"However more view towards Indonesia is positive. Every year even there are always US citizens converting to Islam. Many people from Asia such as Indonesia, Malaysia and others have come to the US but not many of them come there for the purpose of propagating Islam," he said.
Arafat called on Muslims in Indonesia including those in Lombok to hold a positive view on US citizens so that cooperation can be built in various sectors in the future. US ulamas, he said, had kept striving to convince US citizens that the negative view on Islam that some of them have held are against the reality.