Religious and cultural approaches to counter radicalism: Moeldoko

Youth can also help by countering ISIS's influence on social media.

By Aditya Surya for Khabar Southeast Asia in Jakarta

December 10, 2014
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Indonesian Military Commander General Moeldoko warns that the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) poses a threat to anyone, anywhere, at any time, and that religious and cultural approaches are needed to combat the group.

  •  President Joko Widodo (centre) and Military Commander General Moeldoko (left) attend the Indo Defence Expo in Jakarta on November 7th. Moeldoko warned that ISIS poses a threat to anyone, anywhere, at any time. [Bay Ismoyo/AFP]

    President Joko Widodo (centre) and Military Commander General Moeldoko (left) attend the Indo Defence Expo in Jakarta on November 7th. Moeldoko warned that ISIS poses a threat to anyone, anywhere, at any time. [Bay Ismoyo/AFP]

"Every Indonesian should realise two facts to avoid any ISIS influence. First, that ISIS's ideology does not reflect Islamic teachings. Killing fellow Muslims and other human beings is strictly prohibited in Islam. Second, that ISIS is rejecting democracy ," he told Khabar Southeast Asia.

"Indonesia has a high risk for (recruitment). Many Indonesians found dead in Syria or Iraq were mostly recruited online , and most were teens."

Moeldoko indicated that recruitment efforts have not waned even though Indonesia banned ISIS and blocked radical websites.

"We also need different approaches on this. Religious and cultural approaches will help us to counter the growth of radicalism," he said.

Muhammad Agus Mutaqin, a Muslim cleric in Central Jakarta, agreed with the strategy.

"Indonesia is considered a very religious country. Religion is embedded in all aspects of our lives. By providing religious approaches in educational institutions such as pesantrens and schools, and also to the public, it will help citizens to understand how violent and inhumane ISIS's actions are," he said.

Agus said the cultural approach will remind every citizen that unity is at Indonesia's foundation .

"We should go back to see how we as Indonesians decided to unite as one country despite all of our differences: ethnic, religious, etc. This unity is the key for Indonesia to become a large nation-state," he said.

Solahudin , a terrorism expert and journalist, said learning Indonesia's history is important to fighting terrorism.

"Radicalism is not new in Indonesia. It was Darul Islam (DI) that first initiated the establishment of sharia law in Indonesia. Then, the organisation re-emerges as Jemaah Islamiyah (JI), which we all know was involved in various sectarian conflicts during the period of Suharto's downfall," he told Khabar.

Solahudin, who wrote "The Roots of Terrorism in Indonesia," said the country has a history of intolerance laying the foundation for extremism.

"Any radical groups that currently exist in Indonesia, such as JI, Hizbut Tahrir Indonesia (HTI), Daulah Islamiyah, Islamic Defenders Front (FPI), and many others, are similar in their character of intolerance and later becoming terrorist organizations," he said. "Therefore, embracing religious tolerance is very important in Indonesia."

Solahudin warned that recruiting tactics have modernised and become more effective.

"We have to remain vigilant against these recruitment methods , but at the same time use the same media to counter their propaganda," he said.

Taufik Indra Irawan, a youth leader in Central Jakarta, told Khabar people should use ISIS's tactics against them.

"Since ISIS is currently using social media, we should counter their approach in the same way – that is by empowering social media to influence people, especially young people to avoid radicalism, wrong Islamic teachings, and to pursue tolerance," he said.

"We know how to reach more people. If we are speaking up and agree to condemn any radical action such as ISIS, then others will follow. Remember the first pledge in Indonesia was initiated by youth. If we can do it in the past, we can do it now."

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The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) does not represent Muslims.

Photo Essay

 A woman reacts outside Jakarta's Ritz-Carlton hotel on July 17th, 2009 after bomb blasts tore through it and the nearby JW Marriott. Two suspected Jemaah Islamiyah suicide bombers killed at least six people and injured more than 40 others. [Arif Ariadi/AFP]

The Global Terror Threat: Southeast Asia

Southeast Asia has been both a source and a target of global terrorism. Al-Qaeda affiliates Jemaah Islamiyah in Indonesia and Malaysia and Abu Sayyaf in the Philippines are among regional groups that terrorise their home countries with bombings, ambushes,