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Jakarta Post
The Jakarta Post
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ISIL ideology versus Indonesia'€™s identity

  • I Made Diangga Adika Karang

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta | Fri, August 8, 2014 | 09:47 am

When it comes to the world, Indonesia always emphasizes that the country plays a role as a moderate Muslim-majority nation in which democracy and Islam can simultaneously flourish. However, with hard-line group the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) on a mission to recruit Indonesians, Indonesia'€™s integrity could be jeopardized in this regard. In other words, Indonesia'€™s reputation as a moderate Muslim-majority nation might get questioned.

To address this issue, two things need to be raised: to what extent does Indonesia glorify its good image to the world and how could ISIL affect such a reputation, and how Indonesia addresses this challenge to preserve its identity.

Through its well-preserved motto of Bhinneka Tunggal Ika (Unity in Diversity), Indonesia attempts to maintain peace and harmony between Muslim and non-Muslim citizens. With regard to Indonesia'€™s identity as a Muslim-majority nation, Indonesians respect each other while exercising their respective religious beliefs. Religious conflicts have occurred, but they have been settled in a peaceful manner through dialogue.

ISIL is now challenging the Indonesian moderate Muslim mindset. Another series of al-Qaeda is engaging Indonesian Muslims to commonly fight for jihad. The aim of this Salafi-jihadist group is to apply jihadist ideology, to return to the authentic beliefs and practices of the al-salaf al-salih, who comprised the companions of Prophet Muhammad and his followers.

The eight-minute online video uploaded on YouTube entitled Join the ranks has shocked the nation. The video features Indonesians who have joined the movement calling on their fellow Muslims to participate in their fight and pledge their allegiance. Similar videos have also been released featuring nationals from Australia, Canada, Chile and Germany. ISIL has indeed turned into a potential threat, not only to Indonesia but for the international community at large.

Why is it a potential threat? First, ISIL practically applies measures akin to terrorism. It is an aim of terrorism to spread fear through the public sphere. This video is an example of such an effort.

Second, ISIL shares the ideology of al-Qaeda. The aim of establishing an Islamic Caliphate undermines Indonesia'€™s principal of Bhinneka Tunggal Ika.

One of the goals of the republic is to be involved with maintaining international order, as prescribed under the Preamble of the 1945 Constitution. ISIL is a potential threat since it undermines Indonesian'€™s principles as well as national integrity.

Indonesia can overcome this problem via two approaches: inward- and outward-solutions. At the domestic level, we need to filter channels through which it is possible for ISIL to spread its ideology and related efforts.

Furthermore, Indonesia needs to raise public awareness of the danger of terrorism, especially among citizens with minimal knowledge and those who live in remote areas.

Accordingly, the National Counterterrorism Agency (BNPT) has initiated programs on rehabilitation, de-radicalization and prevention. The agency has established the Coordinating Forum for Terrorism Prevention in 10 different cities.

As this issue has become an international concern, Indonesia should cooperate with other countries to minimize the impact of ISIL.

Geopolitically, Indonesia should strengthen coordination primarily with its neighboring countries to prevent the spread of ISIL through borders.

In short, there is no doubt that ISIL is a clear and present danger to the state and people of Indonesia. While the government is taking tough measures, what the people can do is to appeal to the entire nation to return to our real identity that respects diversity.


The writer is a diplomat at the Foreign Ministry. The views expressed are his own.