Editorial: Moderation and Peace Must Prevail

JANUARY 09, 2015

Indonesia should put itself forward as the prime example of a society successfully practicing a moderate form of Islam. As the world’s largest Muslim-majority nation — with most of its Muslim citizens claiming to embrace a peaceful and moderate brand of Islam — Indonesia should be an example of how Islamic teaching, democracy and modernism can work hand in hand to create a working and prosperous nation where all religions and beliefs can live peacefully together.

Instead, Indonesia is still haunted by series of major bomb attacks in the early 2000s, despite the acknowledged success of Indonesian authorities to bring to justice hundreds of terror perpetrators.

The recent emergence of Islamic State has now made Indonesia the focus of attention because of this history, or because its citizens are joining the war in the Middle East against the backdrop of the ever-present terror threat inside the country. Indonesia seems to have been branded an unsafe place with the spread of IS sympathy to this region of the world.

Warnings issued by the US and Australian governments highlight the country’s status despite President Joko Widodo’s rejections.

The core of the problems is that in the last decade Indonesian authorities have failed to deal with the root cause of Islamic radicalism.

Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, for election reasons, courted Islamist groups and allowed their vigilantism and violence to continue unchecked, shaping the notion that even among moderate Muslims such actions were completely acceptable.

The barbaric Paris attack on Wednesday will put more pressure on Indonesian Muslims. Indonesian diplomacy must be able to maintain our image of a peaceful nation. We, the moderates, must now actively speak up and fight against any intolerance and violent teachings.