Concern over the violent approach of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and declarations of support for the group in parts of Indonesia appears to have seen a new-found urgency among Muslim groups to work with the authorities to counter the threat.
Leaders of Indonesia's major Muslim groups yesterday described the spread of support for ISIS here as a threat to social cohesion, saying terrorism cannot be tolerated.
Dr Din Syamsuddin, chairman of the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) and Muhammadiyah, told a national seminar on the ISIS threat that the movement's call to Muslims globally to join its ranks was influenced by politics and lacked religious basis.
"There is no obligation in the Quran for Muslims to set up an Islamic state or a caliphate," he added.
His comments come at the end of a week during which the government called ISIS a threat to Indonesia and ordered a clampdown. Religious Affairs Minister Lukman Hakim Saifuddin, who opened the seminar, said: "Muslim groups, with their networks and daily contact with the community, are at the front line of responding to this threat."
Mr Lukman also refuted comments by some quarters that the crackdown was intended to divert attention from issues such as the Gaza conflict, the challenge over presidential election results and the presidential transition, saying that the group's radical ideas had to be prevented from taking root as they affected national unity.
ISIS supporters, who the authorities say number several thousand at least, have remained defiant.
ISIS banners have been reported in Balikpapan, East Kalimantan, and last Friday, an ISIS flag and several stickers were found displayed outside the governor's office in Jambi province in Sumatra.
Yesterday, police took down a pro- ISIS banner in front of a campus in Bandung, West Java.
Two militants believed to be members of the network of wanted Eastern Indonesian Mujahidin commander Santoso were nabbed in Ngawi, East Java, last Friday afternoon and an ISIS flag was found in their possession, along with weapons.
Santoso had declared his support for ISIS in a recent video uploaded online.
Indonesian Armed Forces' commander, General Moeldoko, said last Thursday in Pontianak, West Kalimantan: "Show us ISIS flags and we will burn them.
"There is only one flag for us: red and white. No other."
Brigadier-General Suparmi Suprapto, head of intelligence at the Indonesian National Police, told the seminar that declarations of support for ISIS had been detected at some 13 locations across Indonesia.
National Counter-Terrorism Agency chief Ansyaad Mbai told the gathering that strengthening moderate Islamic teachings was a key part of countering radicalism.
But he also called for support for a review of laws to fight the terror threat, saying propaganda that sowed hatred and enmity for other groups had to be criminalised, and penalties for terrorist activity had to be raised.
But MUI vice-chairman Maruf Amin warned that hitting supporters too hard may produce a backlash.
"Many who are influenced still lack a religious understanding about what is allowed and what is not. They can still be de-radicalised, made aware they are wrong, and this has to be ongoing."
Twitter pictures show massacre of prisoners
Captives of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) group awaiting execution. Fresh pictures posted on Twitter yesterday showed ISIS militants massacring prisoners. Many of them were shot and others were crucified or beheaded.
The Sunni militants first arrived in northern Iraq in June from Syria where they have captured wide tracts of territory in that country's civil war. ISIS sees Iraq's majority Shi'ites and minorities such as Christians and Yezidis, a Kurdish ethno-religious community, as infidels to be eradicated.
"One of the saddest stories was one of our relatives. They beheaded all his 15 family members in front of him and then took him with them," said Mr Abu Ali, a Yezidi who was hiding with tens of thousands of others on the barren Mount Sinjar in northern Iraq.
This article was first published on August 10, 2014.
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