Thursday, September 29, 2011
Indonesian Staircase of terrorism and deradicalization strategies
A terrorist bomb exploded in the Central Java city of Surakarta, killing one person suspected to be the suicide bomber and injuring another 14 people who had just finished their Sunday prayers in Kepunton Church.
While it remains debatable whether the attack reveals the failure of the deradicalization program in the country or the lack of coordination between the intelligence and police forces, it is certain that this act of terrorism calls for radical changes to the country’s deradicalization strategy.
Deradicalization has so far concentrated on perpetrators of terrorism and direct networks that recruit suicide bombers or bomb makers, leaving many other essential parts and stages in the creation of terrorists untouched.
Using Moghadam’s staircase of terrorism analogy, the country’s deradicalization only targets the fifth and fourth floor of terrorism, which the terrorists and recruiters inhabit, ignoring the lower and ground floors which produced terrorism.
For example, nothing has been done so far about those provoking hatred through small religious circles, university corners, Friday sermons and street demonstrations. These hostile speeches can be found in Youtube or Friday sermons in urban mosques, but the state apparatus claims to have no solid evidence to take action.
The law enforcers continue to look the other way with radical groups. The court drama related to the violence in Cikeusik, Banten, not only hurt our sense of justice but also revealed that the Indonesian legal system succumbs to violent religious groups.
Sidney Jones aptly observes that tolerance of crimes related to religious issues, demonstrated by the Indonesian justice system, has given a green light to criminals dressed in religious robes to commit greater crimes. Hate speeches and violent religious groups should be seen as stairs that lead to terrorism.
A tree is another metaphor for terrorism. It has leaves, fruit, branches, a stem and roots. Killing terrorist suspects and running after the networks is like trimming the tree, but leaves the stem and roots unscathed.
The old terrorists might have been killed, disarmed or sentenced. But the tree of terrorism still grows new fruit, new jihadists and martyrs. Trimming the branches or destroying the fruit alone will not eliminate the tree of terrorism. A comprehensive effort to fight terrorism must be aimed at cutting down and uprooting the tree.
Deradicalization should therefore engage the roots. The roots of terrorism are the violent ideology that nurtures hatred and justifies violence. The violent ideology is normally packaged and sold as religious speeches that provoke hatred against the West, non-Muslims, religious minorities and Muslims with different religious orientations.
The result of these speeches is takfiriah, or apostatizing others or fellow Muslims and justifies taking their lives and property. They even regard mosques of their enemies as appropriate targets to be destroyed.
The characteristics of takfiriah include examining the errors of others, emphasizing the compulsion of religious laws, the jahiliah-ization of the current regime, and the use of violence. These kinds of people inhabit the third floor of the terrorist building.
The higher the floor they inhabit, the more tolerant they are of violent means. Living on the second and first floors are those provoking hatred without justifying the use of violence.
Many living on these floors normally appear on TV, saying that terrorism cannot be justified.
They do this to wash their hands of terrorist acts. However, they should be reminded that they should stop provoking hatred because by doing that they are part of the staircase to terrorism.
Unfortunately, hate speeches are no longer held clandestinely. They can be easily found in Friday sermons in urban mosques, informal religious study circles and of course the Internet.
Hate speeches and violent groups have increasingly become part of life in bustling cities like Cirebon, Jakarta and Surakarta. It is revealed that Ahmad Yosepa (the suicide bomber in Solo) and his friend, Ahmad Syarif (the suicide bomber in Cirebon) were nurtured by the new culture in urban centers. They did not necessarily have frequent physical encounters with certain top terrorist leaders.
City in Arabic is madinah which means civility, suggesting that the city is the place of civility. Cities should be the center that reinforces and shields humanity. Deradicalization strategies should seek to restore our cities, including the mosques and universities, to be centers of humanity.
To achieve this dream, the roots of terrorism should be addressed. Law enforcement is important, but not enough. Political leaders should speak with one voice regarding terrorism and the violent groups, which may have links to terrorist groups.
Religious leaders, particularly the Indonesian Ulema Council, should not let their respected institutions be infiltrated by radical voices and be made into bunkers of radicalism. They need to speak out against violent groups and those who provoke hatred through Friday sermons.
To uproot terrorism, societal involvement is a must. When the ummah find a khatib provoking hatred, they should pull down the khatib. This is important because provoking hatred makes the Friday rituals invalid.
Second, moderate Muslims should reduce their political lust and return to take care of mosques in order that the mosques are free from the dominant influence of radical groups and the religious circles that promote hatred.
Third, community policing at the lowest level should work effectively. Communities should watch their neighborhoods for suspicious activities. They should not allow their neighborhoods to be inhabited by people who plan to kill other innocent people.
Fourth, the state should reinforce consciousness of Pancasila as the foundation of state pluralism and diversity in every sphere of life. The state can do this, for example, by handing down stiff punishments for crimes against religious freedom.
Lastly the most important of all is to make our land a barren and dry place for radicalism. We can only do this through fertilizing and strengthening love, empathy and fortitude to create diversity consciousness.
Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. said “Hatred paralyzes life; love releases it. Hatred confuses life; love harmonizes it. Hatred darkens life; love illuminates it.”
In the framework of love, deradicalization does not mean taking the lives of the people living in the floors of terrorist buildings. Rather, deradicalization will persuade people to vacate the building and never come back. They must realize that living in such a building is not blessed by God, because God is love.
Moh Yasir Alimi, Semarang researcher at The Center for Cultural Pluralism, Democracy and Character Building, Semarang State University (Unnes).