The Jakarta Post
President Joko 'Jokowi' Widodo said on Wednesday that his administration would work more closely with moderate Muslim organizations in an effort to prevent radicalization in a country with the world's largest Muslim population.
Jokowi held a meeting with representatives of 12 Islamic organizations grouped under the Islamic Organization Friendship Body (LPOI) on Wednesday at the State Palace.
In the meeting, Jokowi said that moderate Islamic groups indeed played important roles in promoting tolerance and could serve to counter to radicalism.
Representatives from organizations like Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), the country's largest Islamic organization, in addition to the Indonesian Islamic Preaching Council (DDII), the Islam Union (Persis), Al-Irsyad Al-Islamiyyah and Syarikat Islam Indonesia (SII) joined the meeting.
Jokowi said that the groups should work more with the Religious Affairs Ministry.
'The organization for example, could work to build synergy with the Religious Affairs Ministry [and moderate Muslim groups], particularly in implementing programs and activities aimed at improving the quality of religious understanding in Indonesia,' member of presidential communication team Teten Masduki said.
Teten said that the LPOI could join programs to develop better lesson plans, particularly on the subjects of Islamic thought and civilization, at the moderate Islamic higher education institutions.
Earlier this month, Jokowi told a limited Cabinet meeting specifically held to discuss moderate Islamic higher education that Indonesia needed to maintain a moderate approach to Islamic education because it could help counter the perception that Islam was synonymous with terrorism and was an anti-democratic force.
The limited Cabinet meeting also involved several rectors of State Islamic Universities (UINs) across the country and Din Syamsuddin, chairman of the country's second-largest Muslim organization, Muhammadiyah.
LPOI secretary-general Luthfi Tamimi said they applauded Jokowi's commitment, adding that efforts would start soon in the work to counter radicalism.
'We also told the President that [the government] should be able to prevent radicalism from entering the country and reminded him that it was important to maintain the unitary state of the Republic of Indonesia [NKRI],' Luthfi said.
Luthfi also said that the group briefed Jokowi on pockets of radicalism in the country.
The LPOI, he said, also proposed that the government set up an institution to oversee issues related to mass organizations, given the current overlap between relevant agencies.
Al-Irsyad Al-Islamiyyah chairman Abdullah Mubarak Al-Jaidi said the organizations grouped under the LPOI often called on Indonesian Muslims to maintain peace.
'In our sermon, we often call on people to stem radical groups that continue to undermine the unity of Indonesia,' Mubarak said.
The LPOI also told the government to investigate the masterminds who had influenced a number of Indonesian citizens to join the Islamic State (IS) movement in Iraq and Syria.
More than 500 Indonesian citizens reportedly had joined the IS movement.
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