How Indonesia stood up against terror act
Al Azhar Grand Imam Ahmad Al Tayyeb (2nd from left) speaks at the Majelis Ulama Indonesia as Maruf Amin looks on (3rd from left ). Scholars discussed 'ways to live peacefully' at a meeting held in Jakarta a month after multiple explosions rocked its central district.- Photo by Angel Tesorero
Jakarta - Winning hearts crucial to fighting extremism.
Barely more than a month after multiple explosions and gunfire hit Jakarta's central district, Indonesians don't seem to be reeling from the incident but are steadily going about with their normal lives.
As demonstrated by the hashtag 'kami tidak takut' (we are not afraid) which trended worldwide on the day itself of the January 14 attacks, a strong sense of defiance against terrorism hung over Indonesia's capital.
But the ominous threat of radicalism and extremism has not waned and the battle against terrorism has to be continuously fought in the hearts and minds of its people, particularly the youth.
"Camaraderie and tolerance are the key ingredients to fighting extremism," Shaikh Dr Ma'ruf Amin, chairman of Majelis Ulama Indonesia (MUI), told Khaleej Times on the sidelines of the seventh meeting of the UAE-based Muslim Council of Elders held in Jakarta early this week. The council is an independent international body that aims at promoting peace in Muslim societies.
"To live peacefully, we should unite our thoughts while being tolerant of our diversity. We should not see our differences as a weakness but as a strength as Islamic teachings are about tolerance," Amin underscored.
Amin said radicalism in Indonesia was brought by some of those who fought in Afghanistan in the 1980s.
"Our government has a programme to counter radicalism by helping those who were previously involved in terrorism. We educate them how to become moderate and become good citizens," Amin said.
"The root cause of radicalism is believing in the distorted understanding of jihad," explained Amin. "Then there is the economic factor where the poor people are easily seduced to extremism because they need something to survive."
Amin said the MUI had issued a fatwa or legal opinion against terrorism way back in 1984 and five years ago there was another fatwa condemning suicide bombing.
The Indonesian government also employs a two-pronged approach in combatting extremism. Amin explained: "The 'soft approach' is winning the hearts and minds of the people by spreading the idea of moderate Islam. We define Islam as civilised, polite and friendly."
"The 'hard approach' is the repressive one which uses military power to curb terrorism. This includes close monitoring of certain groups to prevent the rise of cadres of radical people," Amin added.
Meanwhile, the Indonesian youth are also taking a strong stand against terrorism.
Talking to Khaleej Times, Wan Mohammed Mulkan, a medical student at Trisakti University, said: "I'm not afraid of terrorists; they just want to scare the people but I believe Muslims in general are not afraid and we are not terrorists."
"I just want to be a normal person," added Mulkan who was deep in his medical books studying with his classmates at Starbucks café, opposite the popular Sarinah Shopping Centre, where terrorists belonging to ISIL (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) launched attacks last month which resulted to the death of at least eight people and 23 others.