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Women and young people are the primary targets of Islamic extremists

Indonesian kids

The Setara Institute for Democracy and Peace released a report on Islamic radicalization in Indonesia. Based on this, Rycko Amelza Dahniel of the National Counter-terrorism Agency confirmed that the number of high-school students who moved from "passive intolerant" to "active intolerant" has doubled in five years.

The Setara Institute’s survey entitled “The Tolerance of Senior High School Students” released in May 2023 revealed that tolerance of radical terrorist views had increased among teenagers, from 61.6% to 70.2%. The number of high school students exposed to radicalization groups increased from 0.3% to 0.6%.

Rycko, a three-star police general stated at the BNPT 2024 National Working Meeting in Jakarta on the 20th of February: “Along with the increase among teenagers from passive intolerant to active intolerant, those who are active become exposed to radicalization. In the results of research conducted from 2016 to 2023, although the increase in migration is only single digit, this vulnerable group is the nation’s next generation”. 

He also highlighted that women, children and teenagers were the primary targets for radicalization, both offline and online, based on data from the Indonesia Knowledge Hub BNPT Outlook 2023. 

Bonar Tigor Naipospos, the deputy chairman of Setara Institute said: “In the eyes of the Islamists, young people and women are not only beneficial for the future but also demographically the largest age group. The issue they usually raise is Islam as an isolated and oppressed religion even though Islam is the solution for all life. For them, non-Islamic parties always have an interest in weakening Islam; if Islam does not rule and Islamic law is enforced, Muslims will forever be backward. For example, exclusivity only among themselves – they cannot mix with people of different religions, and do not accept class presidents or student council presidents of different religions, etc.”

An example of such control happened in October 2020 at a high school in the capital, SMAN 58 Jakarta, where a Muslim teacher in East Jakarta supposedly sent a text message disheartening students from voting for non-Muslim candidates for chairmanship of the Student Executive Organization. The message from this religious studies and civic education teacher went viral on social media: “Be careful not to vote for non-Muslim OSIS chair candidates number 1 and 2. No matter what, we are the majority. We need a leader who shares our beliefs.” As an outcome, the teacher was moved to another school.

Jakarta Council Member Ima Mahdiah strongly believes that candidates should be selected based on their abilities, not their religion. He stated: “These teachers stated that this was done because they were afraid that if the elected OSIS president was not a Muslim student, they would be inclined to create an OSIS program that was not pro-Islamic”.



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