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 NST menyentuh Hizbut Tharir

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PostSubyek: NST menyentuh Hizbut Tharir   Wed Jul 11, 2007 12:35 pm

2007/07/09

Opinion: A fight for hearts, minds of Indonesia's Muslims
By : AMY CHEW (NST)




About 2.7 per cent of Indonesian Muslims in a survey say terrorism is allowed under the teachings of Islam. This shows the tiny but dangerous radical tendency running through the country, writes AMY CHEW.

INDONESIAN anti-terror police dealt a blow, but not a death knell, to Jemaah Islamiyah last month when they captured the al-Qaeda-linked terror group’s leader and military commander.

But nabbing the key leaders of JI is akin to cutting off the head of the hydra; one immediately grows back in its place.

The captured Abu Dujana, the Afghan-trained military commander, and his boss Zarkasih are expected to be replaced soon, if not already, from within the ranks of JI.

In Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim nation, it appears there is no shortage of Muslims to be recruited by terror networks to replace those who have been arrested or killed.

In a recent survey conducted by The Wahid Institute and Indo Barometer, 2.7 per cent of Indonesian Muslims believe that terrorism is allowed under the teachings of Islam.

Mohamad Qodari of Indo Barometer said: "The number is small but 2.7 per cent of Muslims in this country means four million people. This is dangerous.

"This shows there are people with the potential to be recruited to carry out violence in the name of religion, to be recruited into terrorist groups or militias because of their view that their religion permits violence.

"These people may be sitting quietly in our midst but they have radical thinking."

The Wahid Institute was established by former president and moderate ulama Abdurrahman Wahid to seed a plural and peaceful Islam.

The survey, with a margin of error of three per cent, exposed the tiny but dangerous radical tendency running through Indonesian society.

JI activities may be disrupted for the time being with the capture of its two top leaders, but the real battle against terrorism lies in wresting the hearts and minds of Muslims from the extremist ideology of violence.

John Harrison, manager of the International Centre for Political Violence and Terrorism Research, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, said: "The ideology and belief system have to be challenged and defeated to a point where you are not going to get people to support it any more.

"This is not going to happen quickly."

The battle for the hearts and minds is most difficult when large numbers of Muslims remain sceptical that terrorists exist in the country, despite the bombings carried out by JI, including the 2002 Bali blasts which killed 202 people.

For the sceptics, the bombings are viewed as a global conspiracy by the West to undermine Muslims in the country.

"Do you really believe those people who were arrested are terrorists who carried out the Bali bombings and other attacks?" an Indonesian businessman said recently. "I don’t think so."

The well-educated businessman’s sentiment reflects the dilemma of Muslims; they find it difficult to believe or accept that fellow Muslims are capable of committing mass murder.

Asked whether terrorist acts in the form of bombings were a threat to Indonesia, 32.5 per cent of the people surveyed disagreed while more than half of respondents or 53.8 per cent agreed.

Abdurrahman, a member of Muhamadiyah, the country’s second largest Muslim group, said: "Many Muslims see the issue of terrorism (in Indonesia) as part of a global conspiracy."

According to him, radical preachers propagate the notion of a global conspiracy by America and Israel against Muslims in fringe mosques every Friday.

"If you were to listen to sermons by those who are bearded, they will say that the global conspiracy is conducted by America, Jews, Christians, and it is this global conspiracy which makes it difficult for Muslims to unite," he said at a press briefing on the survey’s release.

"The preachers propagate the conspiracy theory in mosques which do not belong to the mainstream moderate Islam.

"And people believe in this conspiracy theory."

Those with radical leanings believe the most pressing problems like poverty and the high cost of basic goods will disappear if syariah is implemented in Indonesia, which has existed as a secular state since its birth in 1945.

"They believe that Islam is the solution.

"Groups like Hizbut Tharir believe if there is a return to syariah, the price of cooking oil will come down."

Hizbut Tahrir is a fundamentalist group fighting for the implementation of syariah in Indonesia. The group is inspired by Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood.

The preachers are largely unfettered in propagating the "global conspiracy" theory, which radicalises and polarises society, as little appears to be done to stop or dissuade them.

In the meantime, said Abdurrahman, moderate and mainstream Muslim leaders were too busy promoting Indonesia’s image as the world’s most populous and moderate Muslim country to pay much attention to the radicals.

"This is what is lacking in moderate Muslim leaders. They are busy promoting Indonesia as a moderate Muslim country, where the people are friendly and smiling but behind the smile is a bomb.

"They need to think about how to deal with radical groups," he said.

Yenny Wahid, executive director of The Wahid Institute, said the wave of deviant teachings showed no signs of abating.

"If this situation is not dealt with, it will not be improbable that a social explosion will occur at some point," said Yenny.

But behind the troubling statistics, there were also comforting numbers which reaffirmed the moderate and tolerant nature of Islam in Indonesia, where 90 per cent of its 230 million population are Muslims.

Asked whether terrorism is allowed by Islam, an overwhelming majority, 93.3 per cent, said no.

Asked whether Islam teaches Muslims to be violent towards non-Muslims, 96.2 per cent said no.

Mohamad of Indo Barometere said: "An overwhelming majority of Muslims believe that violence by Muslims against other religions will not benefit Islam.

"These people are the social capital from which to build a religious attitude that rejects violence and terror committed in the name of religion."
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