Mahfud M.D. is a former chief justice of the Constitutional Court. (Antara Photo/Fanny Kusumawardhani)

Mahfud M.D.: Slowing Economy Could Fuel Extremism


SEPTEMBER 09, 2015

Jakarta. Former Constitutional Court chief justice Mahfud M.D. says he is concerned that Indonesia's economic slowdown could drive people to embrace extreme ideologies — the likes of those enforced by the extremist Islamic State movement in the Middle East.

Mahfud said he had recently been approached by a man who asked if he could connect him with IS in Syria.

“I asked why he would do that. He said, 'It's good over there; you can get between Rp 15 million [$1,052] and Rp 20 million a month,'” Mahfud told a forum discussion in Jakarta on Wednesday, which was organized jointly by the Association of Muslim Student Alumni (Kahmi) and the organization the former judge's he has founded, the MMD Initiative.

“He may not be serious, but his statement explains how, when we let injustice be, evil thoughts will emerge among people, especially when combined with economic difficulties,” he added.

The National Police and the State Intelligence Agency (BIN) have earlier said that more than 500 Indonesians who went to Syria and Iraq to join the IS had likely been lured in not only by the group's fundamentalist-jihadist ideology, but also with false offers of good pay.

Three men from the East Java city of Malang — Ahmad Junaedi, Helmi Muhammad Alamudi and Abdul Hakim — were arrested by upon their return from Syria earlier this year and confessed that they hadn't been paid as much as promised by the IS and so returned home.

Mahfud said he was concerned about lax law enforcement in Indonesia at the moment, especially in terms of corruption eradication, saying that this is aggravating the negative impacts from the slowing economic situation.

“If we want our country to survive and be run well, the first thing we need to do is ensure strong law enforcement, because law enforcement determines whether the economic and socio-economic situation will be good,” he said.