10/08/2011, 00.00
INDONESIA

Jakarta, moderate Muslims against 300 Islamic extremist websites: block them

by Mathias Hariyadi
Nahdlatul Ulama leaders support the government struggle, which last year blocked jihadist and fundamentalist sites. They promote "false teachings" of Islam and incite attacks in the country. Criticism from activists: block is not the "best solution" to halt the extremist drift.
Jakarta (AsiaNews) - The Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), the most important moderate Muslim organization in Indonesia, supports the Government fight against the proliferation of extremist websites glorifying holy war. Well before the recent suicide attacks in Solo, in Central Java and Ambon in the Moluccas against the Christian community, the moderate wing of the Islamic country asked for an iron fist against the jihadist propaganda on the net. Meanwhile, Information Minister Tifatul Sembiring has announced that over the last 12 months, the government has blocked at least 300 Internet sites linked to Islamic extremist groups that "promote distorted views and ideas of Islam."

Kiai Hajj Hasyim Muzadi, former head of the NU, and his successor and current leader Kiai Hajj Agil Siradj vigorously support the fight against extremism, equating them to "pornographic sites" capable of "influencing people's minds." In a message issued on September 27 last, Siradj asks the executive to "block these dangerous sites” that call on Muslims to become "holy martyrs" and suicide bombers targeting the Christian communities of the archipelago. "They encourage the younger generations - concludes the current NU leader - in false teachings of true Islam." In his warning Agil Siradj also recalls the suicide attack of 25 September against the Bethel Church in Solo, in Central Java (see AsiaNews 09/25/2011At least three killed in a suicide attack on church in Indonesia). The bomber, identified as Pino Damayanti, but also known by the pseudonym Amhad Yosepa Hayat, spent some time in an internet cafe, before carrying out the crazy gesture against the place of Christian worship.

However, according to the activist Sidney Jones, of International Crisis Group (ICG), blocking websites alone is not the best solution in the fight against fundamentalism in Indonesia. The seed of extremism and violent struggle, in fact, is more prevalent in social networks or through the exchange of telephone messages. Moreover, the spreading of false information, to foment sectarian violence, is a longtime practice in Indonesia, also fueled by the low level of education and the limited ability of judgement.

The only period in which Indonesia enjoyed a relatively peaceful atmosphere without inter-religious clashes was under the president (and dictator) Suharto, between 1967 and 1998. With his charisma and the use of force - military and civilian - he was able to maintain control of the country and prevent incidents and attacks by Islamic extremist groups. At the price of a limitation of human and civil rights, combined with the repression of dissent.
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