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The Islamic community seeks to bridge Timor-Leste to the Middle East countries

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Timor - Leste's Islamic leader told the reporters after have a meeting with president of republic. Photo PR.
DILI – The Islamic community in Timor-Leste has asked the president of republic to create a bilateral cooperation with the Middle East countries as it will be easy to bring Timor – Leste into Organization Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) members and receive annual hajj quotas every year.

The President of the National Islamic Council of Timor-Leste (CNITL), H. Ahmad Ali Al-Ayyubi and his delegation were received in audience by the President of the Republic Francisco Guterres Lú Olo.

At the hearing, Ahmad Ali raised with the president Guterres the possibility of the establishment of bilateral relations between Timor-Leste and the United Arab Emirates. After bilateral relations are established between the two countries, the United Arab Emirates will provide scholarships for Timorese people and Timor-Leste may also send workers to jobs in that nation, the visitor said.

Ahmad conveyed to Mr. Guterres concern that the Islamic religion in Timor-Leste does not benefit from Government subsidies and that various laws create difficulties for the processing of nationality requests by Islamic faithful in Timor-Leste.

He will bring up these issues with the Prime Minister or a future government, including the establishment of bilateral relations with the United Arab Emirates.

 “I am asking to the president of republic to create bilateral relation with Middle East countries, and politically the middle east countries already have bilateral cooperation with Timor – Leste because they gave us Hajj quotas to us,” Ahmad told the reporters after the meeting with the president of republic last few days ago.

“The Quato Hajj comes from the political decisions of 56 countries belonging to the Organization of the Islamic Conference which submit to Timor-Leste that there has been a bilateral cooperation with us.”

 “We can send the workers as we send them to Ireland and England. They also accept the workers to work in their country. We can also through them as the world's first OPEC member, Timor-Leste through them we can become OPEC members as well”.

The presidential office confirmed that Timor – Leste would look forward to establish a bilateral cooperation with Middle East.

According to the 2010 census, 96.8 percent of the population is Catholic, 2.2 percent Protestant, and less than 1 percent Muslim. Protestant denominations include the Assemblies of God, Baptists, Presbyterians, Methodists, Seventh-day Adventists, Pentecostals, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and the Christian Vision Church. There are also several small nondenominational Protestant congregations.

After this meeting, the facebookers issued a pro-contra statement. They propose to the president to carefully take the decision to work with Middle East countries.

Many citizens also retain animistic beliefs and practices along with their monotheistic religious affiliation. Before, during and after Portuguese rule, the Timorese people maintained a strong belief in animism. Animism is the belief that all nature is alive and filled with unseen spirits that may be worshipped or placated; and/or seeing a soul in trees, rivers, stones, and heavenly bodies.

During their 24 year-long occupation in Timor-Leste, Indonesia did not recognize traditional beliefs and required adherence to one of five officially recognized religions. Most citizens of Timor-Leste continue to retain animistic beliefs and practices, which they do not view as incompatible with their formal religious affiliation.

Timor-Leste had a considerable Muslim population during the Indonesian occupation, comprised predominantly of ethnic Malay immigrants from Indonesian islands. Additionally, a few ethnic Timorese converts to Islam were noted, as well as a small number of descendants of Arab Muslims residing in the country during the era of Portuguese colonial rule prior to 1975. Typically the Arab Muslims were well integrated into Timor-Leste society, however ethnic Malay Muslims often were not, and only a few hundred remained in the country following independence in 2002. (Oki) 

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