In the first half of February 2020 the ‘Indonesian Islamic State (IS) returnees’ were a hot topic in local Indonesian media. Based on international reports, 689 Indonesian citizens have travelled to Syria (or Iraq) in support of the battle of Islamic terrorist group IS (albeit most experts assume that the real number is much higher). The problem now is that many among these 689 Indonesians – including children and women – have become stranded abroad, mostly in Syria and Turkey.
The issue that needs to be dealt with now is whether these Syria returnees are welcome to travel back home to Indonesia or need to be blocked from entering the country as they may start spreading radical doctrine after settling back home, join local terrorist networks, or start new terrorist cells.
It is an interesting dilemma because a choice needs to be made between, on the one hand, protecting citizens' rights and, on the other hand, safeguarding national security.
This article discusses:
• What is the response in Indonesia toward the homecoming of IS sympathizers? We take a look at reactions on social media, statements made by policymakers, and religious institutions such as Muhammadiyah and Nahdlatul Ulama (NU).
• Can the Indonesian government simply revoke the citizenship of those Indonesians who travelled abroad to join a foreign force or would that be in conflict with the rule of law?
• An overview of Islamization and Islamism in Indonesia over the past decade is presented. The terms Islamization and Islamism need to be separated as Islamization refers to the process of society's peaceful shift towards a more Islam-oriented society (which allows room for specific minorities to co-exist, in harmony, in the pluralist society), while Islamism refers to the desire of a specific group (usually a small group that lacks political power) to impose their conservative version of Islam onto society and politics, and often use (the threat of) violence to achieve their goal. However, this does not mean that both processes do not influence each other. We illustrate this using several recent developments in Indonesia.
• An overview of Indonesia's radical links to the Middle East; Islamic State has been an inspiration for contemporary radical movements in Indonesia. However, throughout modern history radical Muslim groups in Indonesia have been heavily inspired by reform movements in the Middle East.
This article is part of the February 2020 update. To purchase the report, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or a WA text message to +62(0)8788.410.6944 for further information.
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