06/04/2018, 16.44
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Minister of Research wants universities to be cleansed of radicalism

by Mathias Hariyadi

Yesterday, the police found weapons and dangerous rudimentary explosive material on a university campus in Pekanbaru. The alleged mastermind of an attack against local police has been arrested. Civil society groups want the government to “cleanse” the public service of Islamic extremists.

Jakarta (AsiaNews) – "Higher education must be free of radicalism,” said Muhammad Nasir (pictured), Indonesian minister of Research, Technology and Higher Education, the day after a major counter-terrorism operation at the Riau State University in Pekanbaru.

Yesterday afternoon, Densus 88, an Indonesian Special Forces counter-terrorism squad, stormed the homes of students enrolled in the Department of Social and Political Sciences (FISIP), where they found weapons and dangerous rudimentary explosive material.

Three people were taken into custody. One of them is Muhammad Nur Zamzam, a former student suspected of having ties with Jamaah Ansharud Daulah (JAD), Indonesia’s largest terrorist group linked to the Islamic State (IS) group.

Nur Zamzam is suspected of masterminding the attack against the Pekanbaru police headquarters on 16 May.

Terrorism in universities is a new phenomenon for the country. In view of the situation, Minister Nasir has recommended firing any students convicted of crimes related to radicalism or the promotion of extremist ideologies against the state.

In a statement addressed to Indonesian President Joko Widodo, Prof Bagas Pujilaksono, a lecturer at Gadjah University Mada (UGM), the nation's oldest and most prestigious university, expressed deep concern over the growth of Islamist ideologies on university campuses.

For Pujilaksono, young minds can be easily influenced. Young people are sensitive to radical ideas, intolerance and theories contrary to Pancasila, the pluralist state ideology, and national unity. "Such ideas should be stopped and eliminated. The state must do the work."

Meanwhile, civil society groups have called on the authorities to “cleanse” the public service of employees who espouse Islamic extremism.

The case that has sparked public outrage concerns the widow of Budi Satrio, a terrorist linked to the attacks against three Christian churches in Surabaya (East Java).

A few hours after the attacks against the Christian community, a bomb exploded ahead of time in the family’s flat, in Sidoarjo.

Two of her children died in the blast, whilst her husband was killed in the subsequent operation by security forces.

Lukman Hakim Syaifuddin, Minister for Religious Affairs, later confirmed that the terrorist’s widow, Wiqoya, 48, works in his ministry. "She works at the East Java Office in Surabaya," Syaifuddin said.

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