Local powers 'must tackle radicals'
President urges tough response to break cycle of violence and insecurity
President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono
It is up to local authorities to break the cycle of radicalism and violence that brings fear to communities, the country's president says. "No one else knows your people better than you,” Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono told cabinet members, governors, regents and majors, attending National Development Planning conference in Jakarta this week. “Don’t let these things happen. Our people are insecure. All are responsible and obliged to create a feeling of security among the people.” Yudhoyono also urged religious leaders to take an active role in combatting violence. They should take appropriate measures to explain religious teachings so that people better understand and implement them, he said. The president warned that radical groups posed a threat to national integrity and urged Indonesians to protect young people who are vulnerable to indoctrination. But Father Antonius Benny Susetyo, executive secretary of the Bishops’ Commission for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs, threw the ball back into the government's court. “Religious leaders have already warned government on radicalism and violence,” Father Susetyo told ucanews.com today. "What is needed is the president to come up with action plans," he said, adding that these must include the monitoring of local authorities' responses and the imposition of sanctions should they fail to act effectively against the radical groups. If the president shows any leniency towards radicalism, violence will continue, he said. Father Susetyo said radicalism is not caused by poverty but ideology, and it requires serious and holistic approach to stop it.