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Why Islamic extremism is growing in Indonesia

Expediency is behind Indonesian government’s reluctance to check the extremism that is fueling terrorism, according to Compass Direct News.

Published: October 05, 2011 09:09 AM GMT
Why Islamic extremism is growing in Indonesia
Image of a church in Indonesia, from Flickr

The suicide bombing of a church in Central Java on Sept. 25 pointed not only to a new level of attacks on religious minorities in the world’s largest Muslim-majority country but to a political bent that accommodates Islamist extremism. (Compass Direct News) “Radicalization of Islamic teachings and understanding is a problem in Indonesia,” admitted Dr. H. Nasaruddin Umar, director general of Islamic Community Guidance under the Ministry of Religious Affairs. “There’s a need to re-explain the concept of jihad.” Pino Damayanto, aka Ahmad Yosepa Hayat, who blew himself up wounding over 20 members of the Sepenuh Injil Bethel Church (Bethel Full Gospel Church) in Solo on Sept. 25, apparently believed it was his religious duty to kill “the enemies of Islam,” according to his understanding of “jihad.” National Police spokesman Anton Bachrul Alam linked the 31-year-old bomber to the Jamaah Ansharut Tauhid (Partisans of the Oneness of God or JAT), a terrorist group believed to be founded three years ago by Abu Bakar Bashir. Bashir is serving a jail term for terrorism. Bashir is well-known among the security apparatus in the United States. He is seen as close to al Qaeda and alleges that the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency and Israel’s Mossad have carried out “false flag” attacks in Indonesia and elsewhere. The Indonesian government can be expected to crack down on groups such as the JAT, as the United States is among the largest investors in Indonesia, and President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono values his reputation in the West. “He’s a darling of the West,” a senior journalist from The Jakarta Post told Compass. Washington’s war against terror has stakes in Indonesia, which came to light after the 2002 Bali bombings by the al Qaeda-linked Jemaah Islamiyah group, of which Bashir is seen as the spiritual head. Bashir is co-founder of an Islamic boarding school, Al-Mukmin, near Solo. People linked to Bashir’s school have been implicated in terrorist attacks. Dealing with terrorists alone, however, may not help much. Extremism that breeds terrorism needs to be checked, hinted the Wahid Institute’s Rumadi, who uses a single name. The Wahid Institute works towards “a just and peaceful world by espousing a moderate and tolerant view of Islam and working towards welfare for all.” There are extremist groups in Indonesia that are not known to have exploded bombs, but they practice violent moral policing and persecute minorities, sometimes beating members of minority communities to death. According to a human rights group in Jakarta, the Setara Institute for Democracy and Peace, there were at least 75 incidents, including violent attacks, violating religious freedom of the Christian community in 2010. FULL STORYWhy Is Islamic Extremism Growing in Indonesia? (Compass Direct News) PHOTO CREDITzhaffsky on FlickrCC BY-SA 2.0

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