Dozens of govt mosques in Jakarta promote radicalism

Study authors say authorities need to look in their own backyard in fight against extremist preaching
Dozens of govt mosques in Jakarta promote radicalism

Indonesian Muslim hardliners stage a rally after Friday prayers at Istiqlal Mosque, Southeast Asia’s largest, in Jakarta in October 2016. (Photo by Ryan Dagur/ucanews.com) 

Dozens of mosques located at Indonesian government buildings in Jakarta have been promoting radical Islamic teachings, according to the results of a study released by a local NGO on July 8. 

Suggesting the government should look a bit closer to home in its fight against radicalism, the Association of Islamic Boarding School and Society Development and Rumah Kebangsaan — a social organization — said 41 out of 100 mosques located at government offices in the capital have promoted radicalism during Friday sermons.

They include espousing the creation of caliphate and conducting hate speech, according to the study findings.

The study took place between Sept. 29 and Oct. 21 last year by analyzing hundreds of video and audio recordings.

The results "show that the government seems not to be paying much attention to their own mosques," association chairman Agus Muhammad told ucanews.com

He called for the government to up its game and take a closer look in its own backyard and for moderate Islamic organizations "to take a more active part in delivering sermons at state-owned mosques."

Father Antonius Suyadi, who heads Jakarta Archdiocese's Commission for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs, expressed alarm at the study findings, saying they "illustrate how strong the threat of increasing intolerance is."  

He called on the government to immediately address the issue.

"[It] must manage their mosques in a better way so that national unity can be nurtured," he said, adding that the archdiocese "is always open to a dialogue with any party to promote this."

The study results came as little surprise to Helmy Faishal Zaini, secretary-general of the country's largest Islamic organization, Nahdlatul Ulama, who said his organization has warned both local and central governments about this in the past. 

"This boils down to how the authorities manage their own mosques. Make a list of preachers who often deliver provocative sermons and ban them," he said.

However, Anwar Abbas, secretary-general of the Indonesian Ulema Council, expressed doubts over the study findings.

"If it's true 41 out of 100 mosques are like that, this nation would no longer exist. The fact is the nation is still solid. Even love for the nation is stronger," he said.

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