Indonesia prepares national deradicalisation programme

The Southeast Asian nation mulls a new blueprint for countering violent extremism.

By Wella Sherlita for Khabar Southeast Asia in Jakarta, Indonesia

September 20, 2012
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Indonesia is developing a more comprehensive approach to combating radicalisation, officials said this month, aiming to co-ordinate the work of various institutions under a set of shared goals.

  • Co-ordinating Minister for Political, Legal, and Security Affairs Djoko Suyanto (centre, front) speaks about Indonesia's deradicalisation efforts at his office on September 9th. Head of the State Intelligence Agency (BIN) General Marciano Norman sits to his left, and National Police Chief General Timur Pradopo is on his right [Wella Sherlita/Khabar].

    Co-ordinating Minister for Political, Legal, and Security Affairs Djoko Suyanto (centre, front) speaks about Indonesia's deradicalisation efforts at his office on September 9th. Head of the State Intelligence Agency (BIN) General Marciano Norman sits to his left, and National Police Chief General Timur Pradopo is on his right [Wella Sherlita/Khabar].

"The blueprint of the deradicalisation programme must lay the framework for achieving goals," Vice President Boediono said in a statement on his website, after a closed-door meeting September 10th to discuss the efforts with government ministers and counterterrorism experts.

Boediono said that the programme was not a reaction to recent violence in Depok and Solo but had been under development by the National Counter-Terrorism Agency (BNPT) for some time.

Separately, Co-ordinating Minister for Political, Legal, and Security Affairs Djoko Suyanto stressed that the programme was not aimed at any particular religion, since radicalisation can occur in any faith.

"I stress again, there is no connection between terrorism and the mosque. Don't confuse people. Don't connect them," he said at a September 9th press conference with top security officials, one day after an accidental explosion in Beji, Depok revealed a bomb-making facility in a building that passed as an orphanage.

"We have never connected terrorism to any faith or school of thought. But to groups, yes," he said.

Government pledges a thorough approach

Speaking to Khabar Southeast Asia over the phone, Irfan Idris, BNPT's director of deradicalisation, said the programme has a broad scope.

"This national programme will be applied in 2013 not only in pesantren, but also in houses of worship, religious educational institutions, colleges, high schools and junior high schools," he said.

While Irfan did not provide details on the materials that will be included in the national programme, he indicated that institutions would be fully supervised with an eye towards radical content.

"Many organisations will be closely monitored, including radical media, suspected radical organisations, and communities. This will be done in all areas without exception," he added.

Asked whether the government would monitor hardline organisations such as Jama'ah Anshorut Tauhid (JAT), the Islamic State of Indonesia (Negara Islam Indonesia/NII) and the Islamic Defenders Front (Front Pembela Islam/FPI), Irfan said, "yes."

"These organisations may be the same, but the personnel have changed its vision and mission, documents and applications. They are strongly militant. We have not comprehensively assessed their current themes and language. But clearly, there is also a difference between radical movements in Indonesia and in other countries," he added.

Lawmaker voices reservations

Although the new programme has positive aims, some have expressed concern.

Andi Mapetahang Fatwa is a member of the Jakarta Regional House of Representatives (Dewan Perwakilan Daerah/DPD) who was imprisoned during the Suharto regime for expressing his views. He says the government should have discussed plans for the programme in advance with lawmakers.

He also took issue with the proposed certification of ulemas, a topic which has been hotly covered by the media but was not, according to Irfan, covered at the September meeting.

"I think this 'certification for Islamic scholars' is counterproductive . Who may be called an Islamic scholar -- that's a tradition, isn't it, which doesn't need to be regulated by the government," Fatwa told Khabar.

He said that under Suharto's rule, a preacher had to have special permission to speak at a mosque, and this requirement was a tool of political control.

"Now we are in the era of democracy and human rights. Our efforts [at countering radicalism] must also show the maturity of our democracy, and must not be arbitrary," Fatwa said.

The 73-year-old native of Bone, Sulawesi was sentenced to life in prison for speaking against the adoption of Pancasila, the five Indonesian national principles crafted during the "New Order" of the 1970s. After 18 years behind bars, he was granted amnesty in 1999, a year after the fall of Suharto.

According to Fatwa, the only way to counter radicalism is through education.

"Explain to children what jihad is, and the meaning of 'amar ma’ruf nahi munkar' (calls for kindness and keeping crimes of evil away)… But in Indonesia, in this era of human rights and democracy, we need to do this through modern education," Fatwa added.

Radicalisation happens "at early ages"

Arti Suharti, 39, a graduate student at Gadjah Mada University, agreed with both Fatwa and Irfan, saying that the deradicalisation programme must start from the bottom, at early ages, through educational and religious institutions.

"You see that most radicalism occurs at early ages and also mostly in remote areas. Therefore, the deradicalisation programme must involve students at all levels. The structural approach through religious institutions or organisations may be a good approach, but it will take longer since many Indonesians were traumatised during the New Order," she told Khabar.

Arti believes that a significant curriculum at all levels and more activities embracing peace and tolerance will help students recognise how they can counter radicalism.

"I'm sure the government is aware of this reality and will provide our children with new strategies in the deradicalisation programme," she said.

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    • putu
      September 22, 2012 @ 09:09:22PM
    • I support this government program.

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