Sunday November 18, 2018
Home Uncategorized Indonesia -co...

Indonesia -country with largest Muslim population- struggling to fight with radical Islam

0
//
Indonesia
Republish
Reprint
Islamic boarding school students pray at the al-Mukmin Pesantren in Ngruki, Sukoharjo, Central Java, founded by Abu Bakar Bashir, Sept. 2, 2003. (AFP)
Islamic boarding school students pray at the al-Mukmin Pesantren in Ngruki, Sukoharjo, Central Java, founded by Abu Bakar Bashir, Sept. 2, 2003. (AFP)

Hundreds of Indonesians responded to the call by the Islamic State (IS) extremist group for Muslims to emigrate to its so-called caliphate in Syria and Iraq.

Indonesia takes pride in its diverse and largely moderate society, but the world’s most populous Islamic country is trying to curb resurgent radicalism.

According to the National Counterterrorism Agency (BNPT), IS has used an economic approach – not just an ideological one – to recruit followers from Indonesia.

“They are lured with promises of a big salary, up to 50 million rupiah [U.S. $3,635 monthly],” said Brig. Gen. Hamidin, BNPT’s prevention director, during a seminar on radicalization in late October at Brawijaya University in Malang, East Java province.

The spread of radicalism among the younger generation is due to a narrow interpretation of the word “jihad,” BNPT Director Saud Usman Nasution told BenarNews.

“They think that jihad is all about fighting against infidels. But that was only during the era of the Rasulullah [Prophet Muhammad],” he said.

Prison pledge

Radicalism has infiltrated schools, universities, cyberspace, and prisons, Saud said.

“Not all convicts who serve time in prison come out as better individuals. Some of them even preached [their beliefs] and recruited new followers in prison,” he said.

Last year, photos of convicted terrorist Abu Bakar Bashir and other inmates posing with an IS flag at the Nusakambangan penal island circulated widely online. The inmates reportedly posed for the picture after pledging allegiance to IS leader Abu Bakar al-Baghdadi.

Bashir once considered the spiritual head of al-Qaeda’s Southeast Asian affiliate, Jemaah Islamiyah, is serving a 15-year sentence for raising funds to finance a paramilitary training in Aceh province.

The director general of correctional facilities at the Justice and Human Rights Ministry admitted at the time that the pledge of allegiance was off its radar because of weak prison surveillance.

Underlying forces

The number of Indonesians who have joined jihadist groups is insignificant compared with the size of Indonesia’s population (250 million), according to Noor Huda Ismail, research director at the Jakarta-based Institute for International Peace Building.

But their presence is linked to a more widespread problem plaguing Indonesia.

5b16bd13-0c67-4c72-b05f-5543765b1ec7
The National Counterterrorism Agency (BNPT) and Brawijaya University in Malang, East Java, sign an MoU to counter radicalism, Oct. 27, 2015.

“Radicalism has many layers. The terrorism layer represents a small part of society. But there are underlying forces that keep terrorism and radical views alive. The first and foremost is intolerance, and it is the most acute problem in Indonesia,” Noor Huda told BenarNews.

He cited as an example elements in the Muslim community who are hostile to other Muslim sects such as the Ahmadiyah and Shia.

“They consider those fellow Muslims as enemies, let alone non-Muslims such as Ahok,” said Noor Huda, referring to Jakarta Gov. Basuki Tjahaja Purnama by his nickname.

Hardline Muslim organizations protested when Ahok  – a Christian, and the first ethnic Chinese governor in Indonesia – assumed the post.

A survey conducted in Greater Jakarta by the Federation for Indonesian Teachers Associations (FSGI) last month found intolerant attitudes present in close to 90 percent of public schools, especially those in regions on the outskirts of Jakarta, such as Depok and Bekasi.

These early signs of radicalism are mainly evident in students who take religious extracurricular activities. They refuse to shake hands with teachers who are of the opposite sex. They also denounce the state philosophy of Pancasila, which embraces pluralism, and they refuse to line up for the flag-raising ceremony.

The survey, which was viewed by BenarNews, also found that schools play a role in seeding radicalism by setting rules that cater to the religious majority: requiring all students to recite the Quran every morning and female students to wear headscarves, rather than promoting Indonesia’s state motto of “unity in diversity.”

BNPT’s Saud acknowledged that radical views have penetrated public schools and said the agency had undertaken routine visits to campuses across the country to thwart it.

Multiple approaches

IS targets young people through public sermons, as well as chat groups on mobile messaging apps such as Whatsapp and BBM dan Telegram, according to Muhammad Taufiqurrohman, a senior researcher at the Research Center on Radicalism (PAKAR) and Abdurrahman Wahid Center-University of Indonesia.

“These new members are very enthusiastic to go to the Middle East and this was largely through propaganda spread by IS media activists who propagate through web sites such as www.azzammedia.net, www.manjanik.com, www.islamkini.com, and www.daulahislamiyyah.com,” Taufiqurrohman said.

But according to him, the most successful promotion of radical views has been done out in the open through mass public sermons (tabligh akbar ) and trainings (dauroh) that introduce IS and its so-called caliphate in mosques.

Such activities are also conducted behind closed doors, he said, adding that this model had been detected in Medan in Sumatra, Makassar and Poso in Sulawesi, and Bandung and Bekasi in Java.

Disengagement vs. de-radicalization

Taufik Andrie, executive director of the Institute for International Peace Building, is a proponent of disengagement, which emphasizes changes in behavior rather than changes in belief.

“Disengagement is more realistic. They no longer do violent terrorist acts, even though their ideology and belief remains the same,” Taufik said.

He added that his foundation has counseled and rehabilitated terrorism convicts so they no longer have the intention to carry out violent acts, although the foundation does not interfere with their ideology.

Taufik said the most important element in this process was the convict’s willingness to participate.

“We want the initiative to come from them so they don’t feel like they are forced. This makes it easier to work with them,” Taufik said.

The foundation asks inmates about their plans after they finish their prison terms. If they want to start a business, it supports them until they are self-reliant.

This does not always succeed.

One former prisoner, Machmudi Hariono (also known as Yusuf Adirima), opened a restaurant called “Dapoer Bistik” in Semarang, Central Java. In 2010, he was approached by someone who tried to persuade him to join a paramilitary training camp in Aceh.

Yusuf, a veteran of Moro Islamist Liberal Front (MILF) in the southern Philippines, refused the offer and chose to stay in Semarang.

Another former inmate tried to run a fisheries and shrimp ponds business in Central Java, but got involved in terrorism activities again and is now back behind bars.

“Based on our evaluation, we realize that the program suitable for former inmates is something that keeps them busy so that they no longer have the time to think about radical ideology,” Taufik said.

“Running shrimp and fish ponds didn’t keep them occupied enough, so they had a lot of free time to think about those radical views.”

Heny Rahayu contributed to this report. Published with permission from BenarNews

Click here for reuse options!
Copyright 2016 NewsGram

Next Story

Rohingyas Repatriation to Myanmar Scrapped by Bangladesh

Negotiations for repatriation have been in the works for months.

0
Rohingya, myanmar
An elderly Rohingya refugee holds a placard during a protest against the repatriation process at Unchiprang refugee camp near Cox's Bazar, in Bangladesh.VOA

Bangladesh’s plans to begin repatriating Rohingya Muslims to Myanmar Thursday were scrapped because officials were unable to find anyone who wanted to return to the country that has been accused of driving out hundreds of thousands in a campaign of ethnic cleansing.

The refugees “are not willing to go back now,” Refugee Commissioner Abul Kalam told The Associated Press. He said officials “can’t force them to go” but will continue to try to “motivate them so it happens.”

Some people on the government’s repatriation list disappeared into the sprawling refugee camps to avoid being sent home, while others joined a large demonstration against the plan.

Rohingya, myanmar
Workers build a Rohingya repatriation center in Gunndum near Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. VOA

UN urged a halt to repatriation

More than 700,000 Rohingya Muslims fled to Bangladesh from western Myanmar’s Rakhine state since August 2017 to escape killings and destruction of their villages by the military and Buddhist vigilantes that have drawn widespread condemnation of Myanmar.

The United Nations, whose human rights officials had urged Bangladesh to halt the repatriation process even as its refugee agency workers helped to facilitate it, welcomed Thursday’s development.

Firas Al-Khateeb, a spokesman for the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees in Cox’s Bazar, said it was unclear when the process might begin again.

“We want their repatriation, but it has to be voluntary, safe and smooth,” he said.

Bangladesh officials declined to say whether another attempt at repatriation would be made Friday.

Bangladesh Foreign Minister A.H. Mahmood Ali told reporters in Dhaka late Thursday that “there is no question of forcible repatriation. We gave them shelter, so why should we send them back forcibly?”

Rohingya, myanmar
Rohingya refugee children shout slogans during a protest against the repatriation process at Unchiprang refugee camp near Cox’s Bazar, in Bangladesh. VOA

Pleading with Rohingya

At the Unchiprang refugee camp, a Bangladeshi refugee official implored the Rohingya on Thursday to return to their country over a loudspeaker.

“We have arranged everything for you, we have six buses here, we have trucks, we have food. We want to offer everything to you. If you agree to go, we’ll take you to the border, to the transit camp,” he said.

“We won’t go!” hundreds of voices, including children’s, chanted in reply.

Some refugees on the repatriation lists, which authorities say were drawn up with assistance from the UNHCR, said they don’t want to go back.

‘I don’t want to go back’

At the Jamtoli refugee camp, one of the sprawling refugee settlements near the city of Cox’s Bazar, 25-year-old Setara said she and her two children, age 4 and 7, were on a repatriation list, but her parents were not. She said she had never asked to return to Myanmar, and that she had sent her children to a school run by aid workers Thursday morning as usual.

“They killed my husband; now I live here with my parents,” said Setara, who only gave one name. “I don’t want to go back.”

She said that other refugees on the repatriation list had fled to other camps, hoping to disappear amid the crowded lanes of refugees, aid workers and Bangladeshi soldiers, which on Thursday were bustling with commerce and other activity.

Rohingya, Myanmar
Rohingya refugees shout slogans during a protest against the repatriation process at Unchiprang refugee camp near Cox’s Bazar, in Bangladesh. VOA

Plan to return 150 a day

Bangladesh had planned to send an initial group of 2,251 back from mid-November at a rate of 150 per day.

Myanmar officials, speaking late Thursday in the capital, Naypyitaw, said they were ready to receive the refugees. Despite those assurances, human rights activists said conditions were not yet safe for the Rohingya to go back.

The exodus began after Myanmar security forces launched a brutal crackdown following attacks by an insurgent group on guard posts. The scale, organization and ferocity of the crackdown led the U.N. and several governments to accuse Myanmar of ethnic cleansing and genocide.

Most people in Buddhist-majority Myanmar do not accept that the Rohingya Muslims are a native ethnic group, viewing them as “Bengalis” who entered illegally from Bangladesh, even though generations of Rohingya have lived in Myanmar. Nearly all have been denied citizenship since 1982, as well as access to education and hospitals.

Rohingya, Myanmar
Rohingya refugees cross floodwaters at Thangkhali refugee camp in Bangladesh’s Cox’s Bazar district. VOA

Refugee camps bleak

The refugees survived the ransacking of villages, rapes and killings in Myanmar, but for many, life in Bangladesh’s squalid refugee camps has been bleak.

The refugees who’ve arrived in the last year joined a wave of 250,000 Rohingya Muslims who escaped forced labor, religious persecution and violent attacks from Buddhist mobs in Myanmar during the early 1990s.

Access to education and employment has been far from assured.

Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, who hopes to retain power in December elections, has repeatedly complained that hosting more than a million Rohingya is taxing local resources.

Negotiations for repatriation have been in the works for months, but plans last January to begin sending refugees back were called off amid concerns among aid workers and Rohingya that their return would be met with violence.

Foreign leaders, including U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, criticized Myanmar’s leader Aung San Suu Kyi this week on the sidelines of a summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in Singapore for her handling of the Rohingya crisis.

Also Read: Rohingya Muslims Remain Fearful Due To Forceful Repatriation

But on Thursday, Pence said that U.S. officials were “encouraged to hear that” the repatriation process would begin.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said his country would continue working with international partners including the U.N. “to ensure that the Rohingya themselves are part of any decisions on their future.” (VOA)