Jakarta. The rise of radical narratives across different institutions in Depok, West Java, has been perpetuated by anti-Western concepts, notions of Muslim inferiority and hatred toward "enemies of Islam," and mothers are primary recruiting targets to disseminate radicalism, a preliminary study from Jakarta-based human rights group Setara Institute showed.
The study, published on Wednesday (01/11) and which focuses on intolerance and increasing radicalism in Bogor and Depok, found that in the latter, messages of intolerance and radicalism are disseminated through mosques, religious groups and Islamic study circles on college campuses.
"We found that the spread of radical narratives are targeting mosques in housing complexes that receive little to no attention from the government," Setara Institute’s vice chairperson, Bonar Tigor Naipospos, said during a press conference in Jakarta.
Tigor added that the research also found evidence that mothers specifically are being targeted for recruitment.
"It is first through the mothers that they can then influence the children and husband. There has been evidence of those leaving to fight in Syria being first influenced by their mothers," Tigor said.
The National Counterterrorism Agency (BNPT) does not consider Depok a dangerous area, nor is the city officially considered a hub for radical groups.
In spite of this, Depok has a large potential to become a breeding ground for radicalism due to its proximity to Jakarta, making it a buffer city or transit area for terrorists to hide in, the study showed.
Sudarto, a researcher with the Setara Institute, said that radical narratives in Depok had risen as a form of resistance to Western, and particularly American, ideas.
"Intolerant groups reject the definition of terrorism, which they consider a product of Western ideology to belittle Islam. For several communities in Depok, 'the real terrorist' is the West and the United States, who had stolen oil belonging to Islamic countries," Sudarto said.
He added that radicalism has been further strengthened through spreading notions of Muslim inferiority, whereby Muslims are portrayed as victims and treated unfairly.
To promote this perspective, some groups were found to have spread messages that President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo is a liar and that his administration is fundamentally against Islam, emphasizing the fact that the president did not meet Muslim demonstrators who rallied in Jakarta on several occasions this past year.
Furthermore, the study also found hatred directed toward groups identified as "enemies of Islam," including communists, Ahmadiyah, the Syiah community and members of the Liberal Islam Network (JIL).
The municipality government of Depok does not currently have any programs or a special budget allocation to fund deradicalization efforts, and considers such initiatives under the authority of the central government, Sudarto said.
"The role of BNPT, especially on deradicalization efforts, is not adequately known by the citizens of Depok. On top of that, the Terrorism Prevention Communication Forum [FKPT] under BNPT does not exist in municipalities and districts, only at the provincial level," Tigor added.
The preliminary findings revealed some challenges that must be addressed if Indonesian cities are to build resilience against the increasing spread of extremism and radicalism, a phenomenon that has taken hold in Indonesia and around the globe.
In order to do that, Tigor emphasized the strong link between intolerance, radicalism and terrorism, and said that local governments must put an effort to tackle rising intolerance and the spread of radicalism.
Setara Institute conducted the study between July and October through covert in-depth interviews and observation methods.