By Pizaro Gozali Idrus
BANDA ACEH, Indonesia (AA) - An ethnic group in Indonesia's northernmost island of Sumatra on Tuesday commemorated 480 years of brotherhood with Turkey which go back to the Ottoman era.
A large number of people including the mayor Indonesia's Banda Aceh city, humanitarian groups and educational representatives, and Turkish bloggers joined the celebrations.
Program coordinator Teuku Farhan said the commemoration aimed to re-establish fraternal relations between the Sultanate of Aceh Darussalam and the Ottoman Empire which officially started in 1539 during Sultan Alauddin al-Qahar's reign.
"This is the initial data of the relationship between the two nations," said Farhan, who also editor-in-chief of Sicupak Magazine, a local outlet to promote cultural ties between the Turkish and Acehnese people.
The ceremony was held at the tomb of Sheikh Baba Daud ar-Rumi in Banda Aceh, capital of the Aceh province.
Farhan said the tomb was chosen as the venue because it symbolizes Turkey's historical trail in Aceh as Daud ar-Rumi is a respected ulema of Turkish descent.
"Baba Daud ar-Rumi should not be ignored by the people of Aceh as he contributed so much to education," he said.
Farhan expressed his hope to annually celebrate the anniversary and introduce Islamic historical tourist destinations in Aceh to the local and international community.
The event was held through a local community initiative and funded by the people.
Mayor Aminullah Usman noted that Turkey was the leading country to assist Aceh in 2004 when a tsunami hit the region.
"On this occasion, I want to thank the people of Turkey, may Allah repay your kindness," he added.
The mayor said that his administration wants to establish economic and tourism cooperation with the Turkish government.
The government has restored the tomb of Sheikh Baba Daud ar-Rumi in the hopes to attract tourists, he went on to say.
Darlis Aziz, chairman of the Indonesian Student Association in Turkey, said he wants to promote Indonesia as a tourist destination in Turkey.
Aziz, who is also a postgraduate student at Turkey's Hacettepe University, said Banda Aceh could be its gateway.