Editorial: Root Out Radicalism Before It’s Too Late

MARCH 09, 2015

Indonesian authorities urgently need to back up their rhetoric on banning groups supporting the Islamic State with real action. Because despite clear statements from the National Police and the Attorney General’s Office that they would crack down on such groups, they are very much alive across the archipelago, with many Indonesians reportedly having left to join the organization.

The National Counterterrorism Agency (BNPT) has estimated that more than 500 Indonesian jihadists have already gone to Syria and Iraq to join IS.

The recent disappearance of 16 Indonesian citizens in Turkey, who are strongly believed to have crossed over to Syria to join the extremists, is only one example that shows radicalism remains very much alive and kicking in our country.

Despite hundreds of arrests made since the 2002 Bali bombings, we have clearly failed to eliminate extremism and radicalism among Indonesians.

While arrests are important, law enforcement alone can’t stop radicalism, which can easily lead to terrorism. The government has never worked seriously to address the source of the problem. We urge the authorities to launch a deradicalization program involving moderate Muslim clerics and teachers. The government must also make sure this topic is addressed in schools, as many of our students have been infected by narrow-minded intepretations of religion.

All politicians should stop using the religious card to woo Muslim voters. The politicization of religion is the main reason why there is no united stand among our nation’s leaders on how to curb and eradicate radicalism.

The IS ideology must be rooted out before the hundreds of Indonesian fighters return home from the Middle East and start posing a real threat to peace and stability in the archipelago.