Radical Islamists infiltrate moderate Muslim groups in Indonesia
April 3, 2009
NOTE: The press release about the report is posted at http://www.libforall.org/media/media-current-news.html [HTML] and http://www.libforall.org/media/press-releases/LibForAll%20Foundation%20Book%20Launch%20Press%20Release%20-%20Final.pdf [PDF]. Excerpts of the report translated into English are found at http://www.libforall.org/media/press-releases/Illusion%20of%20an%20Islamic%20State%20English%20Excerpts.pdf [attached]
Hizbut Tahrir says it supports sharia law and the creation of a caliphate through peaceful means. "Opportunistic politicians who work with extremist political parties and groups have joined the radicals in driving our nation towards a deep chasm," said Indonesia's former president, Abdurrahman Wahid, whose Wahid Institute promotes moderate Islamic thought, democratic reform and religious pluralism. "They are jeopardising the future of our multi-religious and multi-ethnic nation," Wahid, the editor of the report, added in a summarising statement.
The report also includes contributions from former leaders of the country's two largest mainstream Muslim organisations, Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) and Muhammadiyah, which between them claim to have more than 70 million supporters. Predominantly Muslim Indonesia is officially secular although a vocal group of Muslim hardliners have pressed a more radical agenda in a country with significant minorities of Christians, Hindus, Buddhists and other religions. The study noted that the tactic of extremists was to gain influence in mosques or other institutions by, for example, offering financial help or even free cleaning services. Sometimes professionals such as lecturers, doctors or teachers would also help to infiltrate institutions and ultimately gain control over them, it said.
The report said a team of more than 30 researchers from Islamic universities and institutes covering 17 provinces was involved in the study. ISLAMIC LAW PKS, which has campaigned on strong anti-corruption credentials, is targeting 20 percent of the vote in the April 9 parliamentary elections so that it can field a candidate for the more important presidential election on July 8, although most opinion polls have put it below 10 percent. "There's no infiltration, no hidden agenda, we are open as a party," PKS spokesman Ahmad Mabruri said. "What is clear is PKS is now even more moderate." Hizbut Tahrir Indonesia spokesman Ismail Yusanto said that some of the group's members belonged to other Muslim groups or organisations but in a private capacity or after being invited. "Using the term 'infiltration' is very provocative. It has a meaning of evil intention even though it is not in fact like that," he added. He also denied that the group received funding from Saudi Arabia.
The staunchly Muslim Indonesian province of Aceh is the only area officially allowed to practise Islamic law, but some other parts of the country have introduced sharia bylaws requiring women to wear headscarves or schoolchildren to recite the Koran. Yudhoyono currently relies on support from a coalition of Muslim and other parties which, some analysts say, has influenced his government's policies. Last year, the government issued a decree to restrict a minority Muslim sect, and pushed a controversial anti-pornography law through parliament, provoking an outcry from many Indonesians who saw it as a threat to artistic, religious and cultural freedom. "The Illusion of an Islamic State: the Expansion of Transnational Islamist Movements to Indonesia" is jointly published by the Wahid Institute, the Maarif Institute and the Bhinneka Tunngal Ika ("Unity in Diversity") movement.