Ma'ruf Amin (Antara Photo/Rivan Awal Lingga)

Indonesian VP Leads ‘Comprehensive’ Counterterrorism Campaign


NOVEMBER 24, 2019

Jakarta. Vice President Ma’ruf Amin said he has been assigned by the president to lead a comprehensive campaign against the spread of radical ideologies which he said had reached unimaginable places from pre-school play groups to government institutions.

In an exclusive interview with BeritaSatu TV aired on Friday night, Ma’ruf said his task was to ensure that the country was “immune” to extremist ideologies.

“We will handle this issue comprehensively from the upstream to the downstream. We want to make sure that the societies are immune to the influence of radicalism and terrorism,” Ma’ruf said in the TV’s Special Interview with Claudius Boekan program.

Indonesia has seen two high-profile attacks in the last two months, including a knife attack that injured then chief security minister Wiranto in Banten and a suicide bombing at the Medan Metropolitan Police headquarters in North Sumatra.

The National Police have blamed Islamic State-linked Jemaah Ansharut Daulah for nearly all attacks across Indonesia in recent years.

Even the police themselves must deal with a fact that they are not in a sterile environment, after a policewoman was arrested in September for alleged involvement with the militant group.

The North Maluku officer, identified by initials N.O.S., has been stripped of her job and is now in custody awaiting trial.

Ma’ruf said the campaign would target schools, state agencies, worship places and other public institutions to prevent radicalism from really taking root there.

“The challenge is getting bigger because radicalism has a growing influence on society, not just among civil servants but also students. We even received reports that it already found its way to the PAUD,” Ma’ruf said, using the Indonesian acronym for pre-school play groups.

Because this task is large in scope, the former Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) chairman said his team involved nearly all ministries and state agencies.

The Bureaucratic Reform Ministry, for instance, will get involved to filter out state employees with radical views, he said.

Earlier this month, the Religious Affairs Ministry said it would revise the current religious studies curriculum and ban textbooks that propagate intolerant views at state-run schools in a move to curb creeping religious extremism in society.

“We also work together with various religious organizations,” Ma'ruf said. Their job is to counter radical teachings by promoting tolerance and a moderate view of Islam. 

Certified Preachers

Ma’ruf encouraged Islamic preachers with moderate ideological views to obtain an MUI certificate, although it was not mandatory.

“It doesn’t work like a driver’s license -- you can’t drive without it. We certainly cannot ban preachers from delivering religious speeches just because they don’t have the certificate, because it could cause us a bigger problem,” he said.

The MUI has come up with the idea of carefully selecting ulemas eligible for delivering sermons to make sure that they have good understanding about Islam and curb the presence of radical or ‘celebrity’ ulemas.

“We want to get rid of statements [in the sermons] that could potentially incite hatred and hostility. We have the MUI and the Religious Affairs Ministry to provide tolerant preachers who fully understand the country’s [religious] pluralism,” said Ma’ruf, himself is a renowned Muslim cleric from Indonesia’s biggest Muslim organization Nahdlatul Ulama.