Islamic State (ISIS) has no place in Indonesia, the world’s largest Muslim nation, President Joko Widodo has said, amid growing concern that South-East Asia was becoming a fertile ground for the dreaded terror group. “Indonesia opposes all forms of extremism and violence,” Widodo told PTI ahead of his state visit to India, beginning on Monday.
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“The ISIS has no place in Indonesia,” he said adding that his country takes a comprehensive approach in fighting extremisms and terrorism through hard power by law enforcement and legislation; as well as soft power by taking religious and cultural approach. “Indonesia will always cooperate with all countries to fight terrorism,” he said, adding that such cooperation will be through the exchange of information as well as intelligence exchanges and cooperation.
His comments came against the backdrop of Singapore Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam’s remarks last week that the extremist beliefs of terror group ISIS have spread and taken root in South-East Asia. Towards the end of last year, Indonesia had detected clear signals of an attack and arrested several individuals. Still, the capital Jakarta was struck by bombs in January, killing eight people.
A top Indonesian military General last week warned that ISIS, which is in retreat in Iraq and Syria, is building its base in Mindanao, a restive island in the Philippines. The attempt by ISIS to create a fully pledged wilayat, or province, in the southern Philippines poses a serious security threat to Indonesia, the military officer had said. However, Widodo indicated that ISIS sympathisers in Indonesia are merely a disaffected minority.
“Islam in Indonesia is on the whole moderate. Diversity is part of who we are. (But) we are dealing with this threat (terrorism and radicalism), not only through security and legal measures but also working with religious groups to tackle extremism,” he said. “We also play an active role in international forums such as the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy and the Global Counter Terrorism Forum,” he said.