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Indonesian Christians pledge to fight extremism

Spread of radicalization fuels alarm among minority commmunities

Indonesian Christians pledge to fight extremism

Father Eddy Purwanto, executive secretary of Indonesian Bishops Conference, says it is a challenge for the Catholic Church to build relationships with radical groups. (ucanews.com photo by Ryan Dagur)

 

Catholic and Protestant leaders have united in speaking out against Islamic extremism in Indonesia, which is spreading according to recent studies.

In a joint statement issued at the end of a seminar organized by Christian groups, including the Indonesia Bishops Conference, in Jakarta on Aug. 21, the leaders said radicalism and terrorism are serious threats to all Indonesians, especially religious minorities.

"We invite all citizens to be wary of radical understandings developed by certain groups," they said asserting that, as part of the nation, Christians must strive alongside the government to find the best solution to the menace.

"Public participation is important in that people must not be permissive or indifferent to the situation around them," they added.

Earlier this month, the Wahid Foundation and the Indonesian Survey Institute, released a report that found that 8.1 percent or 12 million adult Muslims are either radicalized or at risk of falling for the ideology.

Solahudin, a researcher from the Center of Terrorism and Social Conflict Studies at the University of Indonesia, said during the seminar that the so-called Islamic State's influence now includes funding nationwide Islamist groups.

Since 2010, homegrown terrorism has largely been funded by robbery and kidnapping, Solahudin said. "But this year, there has been a change.… Funding for terrorism in Indonesia now comes from outside sources such as the Islamic State."

Djoko Mulyono, Director for State Security, said that the police are counteracting terrorism in various ways, include prevention and de-radicalization.

The police are running a campaign to raise awareness of the dangers of extremism, hosting lectures, seminars, and discussions, he explained. "So that people are immune when radical ideology tries to influence them."

"De-radicalization" is a program given to prisoners or those on parole who have been exposed to radical interpretations of Islam, Mulyono said.

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Father Edy Purwanto, executive secretary of the bishops' conference said that the Catholic Church aims to build a "love for the nation" attitude among church leaders and Catholics.

"It's already started and we will continue in the future," he told ucanews.com.

Father Purwanto, hoped that building relationships with radicals would melt their rigid, narrow perspective.

"We do not mean to control them," he said. "Somehow, radicalism arises from ignorance, from a wrong perception of others."

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