Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Aceh, West Java, Banten radicalism hotbeds: Survey

Aceh, West Java, Banten radicalism hotbeds: Survey
The Jakarta Post, Jakarta | Thu, 10/06/2011 6:40 AM
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Nanggroe Aceh Darussalam, West Java and Banten are the three provinces most vulnerable to Islamic radicalism, a recent survey shows.

The survey, conducted by Lazuardi Birru and Indonesian Survey Institute (LSI), canvassed 4,840 Indonesian Muslims from 33 provinces regarding radicalism, ranging from their views on the meaning of jihad to their attitudes toward non-Muslims.

West Java and Banten both scored vulnerability indexes of 46.6, which was the second-highest in the nation. Aceh was the worst, logging a vulnerability index of 56.8.

Lazuardi Birru chairperson Dhyah Madya Ruth said Aceh was prone to religious radicalism because it had been granted the special right to implement Islamic agendas and sharia laws.

“Last year, intolerance was the most significant factor [in sparking radical acts], while this year it was the Islamic agendas that caused them,” she said.

The fact that Aceh topped the survey, while eight of Indonesia’s 11 suicide bombers — including the two most recent ones: Cirebon mosque bomber Muhammad Syarief and Solo church bomber Ahmad Yosefa Hidayat — originated from West Java may appear confusing at first glance.

Dhyah said the situation in West Java was different than that in Aceh, as recent attacks by West Java-born terrorists were rooted in their socio-economic frustrations. “52.9 percent of the West Javanese respondents in the survey felt they suffered economic inequality, thus when someone offered Islamic agendas as the way out of the problem, they thought [the Islamic agendas] could be the solution,” Dhyah said.

The survey found that the country was slightly less vulnerable to radical acts than before, with the nationwide vulnerability index falling from 45.4 last year to 43.6 this year. While it can be seen as a positive, the pollsters said the figure was still a far cry from the “safe” index level of 33.3.

Lazuardi Birru defines radicalism as supporting groups that promote violence or using religion as grounds for carrying violent acts, such as assaulting people from different religion or attacking worship places. It also defines radicals as people who justify religious violence.

National Counterterrorism Agency (BNPT) chief Ansyaad Mbai said that the way to counter such radical and terrorist initiatives was not through aggressive and militant approaches, but by carefully tracking the terrorists. “The more violent our approaches are, the more militant [the terrorists] will be.”

LSI political observer Burhanuddin Muhtadi praised the government’s de-radicalization campaigns, citing the fact that there was a significant downgrade in recent terrorist attacks compared to previous years.

Many critics lambasted the government for its failure to prevent both attacks in Cirebon and Solo, but Burhanuddin explained that both attacks clearly exposed the frustration and desperation of the terrorists and might even indicate the government’s success in reducing radical threats.

Burhanuddin told The Jakarta Post after the presentation of the survey that the recent attacks were obviously carried out with limited funding while the government’s antiterrorism agents were breathing down the terrorists’ necks.

“If we compare them to terrorist attacks in the past such as the bombings in Bali, the terrorists’ capacity for conducting large-scale attacks has decreased significantly. That’s very clear — crystal clear,” he said (sat)

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