Indonesian Muslims Denounce ISIS Ideology

This article is taken from The Jakarta Globe.

More Indonesian Muslim groups and public figures have voiced their rejection against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS. Some urge the government to take firmer action against the possible spread of a growing movement in Indonesia, while others suggest that a lack of media attention would reduce interest in the extreme religious campaign.

“We strongly condemn the violence and terror waged by ISIS; they go against Islamic teachings,” Teguh Santosa, deputy chairman of Indonesia’s second-largest Muslim organization, Muhammadiyah, said in a press statement on Saturday.

“We cannot stand silent as we witness this [movement]. It’s true that forming and joining a group is the right of every citizen, but we cannot tolerate violence. The government must take firm action [against ISIS’s influence].”

Teguh warned Indonesian Muslims not to be duped by the hardline Muslim crusaders of ISIS, saying that the group is merely donning an Islamic mask but do not carry the true religious teachings of the prophet, given its notoriety for brutal force and violence.

ISIS, also known for its extreme interpretation of an offshoot of Islam called Wahabism, has reportedly been targeting Shiites and Christians in Iraq, one of two countries where the group currently operates — the other being war-torn Syria.

Teguh, who is also an international relations lecturer at the Islamic State University (UIN) Syarif Hidayatullah in Jakarta, theorizes that ISIS had possibly been developed by an “anti-Islam” movement that aimed to benefit from the escalating tension and fighting in battle-worn Middle East.

The Islamic Student Union (HMI), meanwhile, condemns Indonesian Muslims condoning and adhering to ISIS’s extremist ideology, following the recent upload of a YouTube video featuring an Indonesian man who claims to be a member of the radical movement, calling on local Muslims to stage jihad and support ISIS by migrating to a trans-national caliphate it claims to have established.

“Indonesians who inhabit [the space] between Sabang and Merauke, we weren’t born in Iraq or Syria,” HMI secretary-general Muhammad Chairul Basyar said on Friday, referring to the eastern and western extremes of Indonesia.

“In our homeland, people of all backgrounds enjoy religious freedom,” he added. “Citizens who act as though they don’t live in Indonesia, as though they are foreigners in their own homeland, disgust us.”

Teguh and Chairul made their statement following a written warning by Religious Affairs Minister Lukman Hakim Saifuddin, in which he stated the government will strip any citizen pledging allegiance to the ISIS caliphate, of their Indonesian citizenship.

The country’s largest Muslim group, the Nahdlatul Ulama, has also joined the chorus of rejection of the un-Islamic “extremist movement.”

An unwarranted fear?

Syarifuddin Jurdi, the head of the political department at UIN Alauddin in Makassar, is worried that some Muslim groups in Indonesia that have been campaigning for an Islamic caliphate will be interested in joining ISIS.

“Since the fall of the Turkish Ottoman [Empire], fights to re-establish the caliphate have continued. ISIS emerges as a response to the crisis in the Middle East, and the virus is spreading across the Muslim world,” Syariffudin said.

“ISIS is a transnational movement of whose development we must remain alert. Those who aren’t satisfied with the current political condition of this nation may join ISIS. The government and community groups must try to anticipate that,” he added.

However, Qasim Mathar, a professor of Islamic studies also at UIN Alauddin, believes Indonesia’s fear of ISIS was “too raw,” and that blowing the issue out of proportion might trigger unnecessary suspicion among local Muslim groups.

Hardline Islamic groups Hizbut Tahrir Indonesia (HTI) and the Indonesian Islamic State (NII) may be in danger of becoming the subject of such paranoid fears. HTI has on previous occasions voiced the idea of a pan-national Islamic caliphate, while NII is known to be running its own pseudo-Islamic state inside Indonesia.

Neither group is known to be affiliated with ISIS, said Qasim.

“[The attention surrounding ISIS] may turn Indonesian Muslims against each other; it has the potential to divide our people,” Qasim said. “Furthermore, [the fear of] ISIS might shift the country’s focus from humanitarian problems and Israel’s strike against Gaza. Let’s ignore the ISIS issue in Indonesia until we receive proof of law enforcers arresting members of ISIS here.”

HTI has also denounced ISIS’s version of a caliphate on its website, saying the group has not used the “right methods” for establishing a separate Islamic state.

Chairul, too, suggested that a heavy focus on ISIS may foster unnecessary worries and fear among Indonesians.

“We must not take heed of people spreading animosity and spite,” he said.

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