VP Jusuf Kalla, right, pushes back at the idea that Indonesians who join IS should lose their Indonesian citizenship. (Antara Foto/Andika Wahyu)

VP Kalla Says Revoking Citizenship of Indonesian Jihadis not the Answer


MARCH 23, 2015

Jakarta. Vice President Jusuf Kalla said on Monday that revoking the citizenship of Indonesians who travel to Syria or Iraq to join the Islamic State (IS) was not the best way to deal with the issue.

Kalla said the country needed to "remain stable" and that stripping someone of their citizenship would not solve the problem.

“We can’t revoke someone’s citizenship just because of his ideology," Kalla said. "It’s only possible to hand them sanctions. We need to fix this country by uniting and working on our own ideology."

The comments come at a time of heightened concern about Indonesians fighting with foreign forces overseas, namely the IS militia, which has seized large swathes of Iraq and Syria. Indonesia’s National Counterterrorism Agency (BNPT) says an estimated 500 Indonesians have joined IS, with some believed to have returned.

Kalla's most recent statement seemed to contradict comments he made last week when he said anyone caught fighting for a foreign force would lose their citizenship. But his stance on Monday gained the backing of Home Affairs Minister Tjahjo Kumolo.

“It is not yet necessary to revoke the citizenship of Indonesians joining IS. What we need to do is protect our citizens,” Tjahjo said.

Preventing Indonesians from traveling to Syria would be a better action to take, Tjahjo said.

“We need an integrated policy to deal with this. We will hear advice from Nadhlatul Ulama [NU] and we will work on the anti-terrorism law so we can prevent Indonesians from going to Syria to join IS,” Tjahjo said.

Indonesia’s National Counterterrorism Agency (BNPT) has urged President Joko Widodo to issue a regulation in lieu of law, or perppu, prohibiting Indonesians from traveling to “conflict-prone” countries.