Saturday, October 2, 2010

Indonesian Mosques used to spread violence

It’s Time to Remove Hate From Mosques

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has finally responded to a growing problem that already had many Indonesians worried. He has acknowledged that mosques are being used to spread violence, and has called for it to stop immediately. With the fall of the iron-fisted government of President Suharto in 1998, decades of strict surveillance of mosques also fell by the wayside. Now, it is well known that religious extremists often use mosques to spread messages of hatred, nurture dangerous radicalism and recruit jihadists.

“We should be providing comfort and peace to everyone and not turn mosques into places to encourage provocation,” Yudhoyono said after inaugurating the newly renovated Baiturrahim Mosque at the State Palace complex.

The president said that mosques should be places where brotherhood and close ties between all people were fostered and strengthened.

They should also be places where the purity of the Islamic creed and teachings are safeguarded, he said.

The president’s message is both timely and timeless, as places of worship are sacred and should be used for peaceful purposes only.

With hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of mosques spread across the country, places of worship can and should be used to unite the country.

Still, it cannot be denied that in numerous mosques on Java and other islands, messages of peace are not what is being taught. Some mosques have become centers where hard-line and radical forms of Islam are being preached and advocated.

It is not surprising then that a recent survey by a noted institution found that tolerance toward minority religions was on the decline in the country.

This alarming trend must be reversed, for the sake of national security and national unity.

Just hours after the president made his statement, a mosque belonging to the Ahmadiyah, an Islamic sect considered deviant by many mainstream Muslims, was attacked and set on fire in Bogor.

It was just the latest in a series of violent attacks on the Ahmadiyah this year.

In response to this rise in religious violence, analysts have called on the government to more strictly monitor hate speech and messages of extremism.

And not only those messages spread from the pulpit, but also those readily available and accessible on the Internet.

If the government is attempting to filter pornography on the Internet, it should do likewise for hate speech and messages of extremism.

Firm measures are in order.

Recent events have reminded us that terrorism remains a menace to society.

One way to stop terrorists would be to prevent them from enjoying safe havens in mosques, which are holy places that should be reserved for the worship of God. Editorial, Jakarta Globe

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