From top left: Indonesian Ambassador to Egypt, Lutfi Rauf, Rector of Makassar Indonesian Muslim University, Prof. Basri Modding, Executive Director of Leimena Institute, Matius Ho, and Vice Rector for UMI’s Cooperation and Promotion Department, Prof. Hattah Fattah, in the International Webinar Series on Cross Cultural Religious Literacy (CCRL), Thursday (8/11/2022).
IL News 012/2022
Jakarta – The ideology of extremism is still targeting young people, so therefore it is imperative that we strengthen the narrative of religious tolerance in public spaces, including the educational world. The Covid-19 pandemic situation, which has caused individuals to be isolated from their social circles and to spend more time surfing online, has also caused young people to become more vulnerable to radicalization and recruitment to join extremism.
“Young people are the segment of society who are very exposed to the threat of extremism and this circumstance is also supported by the very rapid development of information technology. This allows them to easily access extremist propaganda and terrorism content in the media,” said the Indonesian Ambassador in Cairo, Egypt, Lutfi Rauf, who was the keynote speaker in the International Webinar Series on Cross Cultural Religious Literacy (CCRL), Thursday night (8/11/2022).
In the said webinar themed “CCRL for Countering Religious Extremism: Answering Cairo’s Message” which was held by Makassar Indonesian Muslim University (UMI, for its acronym in Indonesian) and Leimena Institute, Ambassador Lutfi said the social impact of the Covid-19 pandemic is predicted to still continue to be felt in the future. According to him, all parties must remain alert to the long-term challenges that can arise due to its relations to extremism.
“Based on the European Union Terrorism Situation and Trend Report 2022, it was found that the Covid-19 pandemic supports the formation of extremist narratives,” Lutfi added.
Lutfi cites the statement of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime which mentions that the various groups attempting to spread extremism tend to exploit religious teachings, ethnic differences, and political ideologies to justify or recruit followers.
“Indonesia’s condition, with its rich diversity that we usually pride ourselves on as a potential in this context, can become a fertile ground for the spread of extremism if we are negligent,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Vice Rector for UMI’s Cooperation and Promotion Department, Prof. Hattah Fattah, stated that the education sector could be a vehicle to raise public awareness of the dangers of extremism and radicalism. However, by contrast, educational institutions could also be a fertile ground for promoting radicalism.
“How to guard educational institutions from being co-opted by radicalism is our common challenge,” Prof. Hattah said.
Hattah expressed that even though UMI is a da’wah educational institution with Islamic particularity, it has never rejected non-Muslim students. UMI also instills the Islamic understanding of Rahmatan lil-‘alamin (mercy to all creation) through real concepts and practices at the Darul Mukhlisin Islamic Boarding School, Padang Lampe, South Sulawesi.
From top left: Senior Fellow of Leimena Institute, Prof Alwi Shihab, Chairman of the Al-Azhar International Alumni Organization Indonesian Branch, Tuan Guru Bajang HM Zainul Majdi, Expert Staff of the Prevention, Protection and Deradicalization Task Force under the National Counterterrorism Agency, Muhammad Suaib Tahir, and moderator, Abbas Ali Mayo.
Few but Militant
Expert Staff of the Prevention, Protection and Deradicalization Task Force under the National Counter-Terrorism Agency (BNPT, for its acronym in Indonesian), Muhammad Suaib Tahir, said the narratives developed by extremist groups are far more productive and effective compared to those of moderate groups.
“They (the extremist groups) are very militant, even though in reality they are only a few in number but they dominate social media,” said Suaib.
The situation has already succeeded in influencing the youth. According to Suaib, when BNPT conducted interviews with prospective employees for state-owned corporations, several young people who have just graduated from college or high school stated that they would follow the views of their ustad (Islamic religious teacher) if they are asked to go for jihad to Syria.
“Some time ago, I received a phone call from my family in Indonesia to ask me if we could bring home their young children who are in Syria because they were detained and unable to return to Indonesia. They were influenced by social media,” Suaib recounted.
Chairman of the Al-Azhar International Alumni Organization Indonesian Branch, Tuan Guru Bajang (TGB) HM Zainul Majdi, said extremism stems from a wrong understanding of religion. That is why, there is a need for serious educational intervention in classrooms by ensuring that religious materials can accommodate diversity and that teachers have moderate religious understanding as a qualification.
“When it comes to educational intervention, we have to ‘comb’ the Islamic materials that we teach in all levels of education. It is pointless to narrate in webinars, speak on an intellectual level but plant seeds to the contrary,” Zainul stated.
Senior Fellow of Leimena Institute, Prof. Alwi Shihab, said Leimena Institute collaborated with UMI and several institutions to conduct CCRL trainings because it has realized the important role of education in instilling inclusive values. The online training has been attended by around 2,400 madrasa and Islamic boarding school teachers.
Executive Director of Leimena Institute, Matius Ho, said the CCRL webinar series was inspired by the implementation of The First International Conference on Religious Extremism: The Intellectual Premises and Counter Strategies in Cairo, Egypt, on June 7-9, 2022, which, among other things, recommended the importance of education in overcoming problems of extremism, particularly educational curricula, children’s primary education, as well as teachers and other education specialists.
In that context, the CCRL training emphasizes strengthening the solidarity among the children of the nation and people of different religions and beliefs by training their competence to work together in a pluralistic society.
The Rector of UMI, Prof. Basri Modding, said that UMI has consistently implemented inclusive education. For example, the Darul Mukhlisin Islamic Boarding School was visited recently by the leaders of the American Jewish Committee to conduct interfaith dialogue. (IL/Chr]
You can watch webinar themed “CCRL for Countering Religious Extremism: Answering Cairo’s Message” at the following link: