Majorities and Minorities Contribute to Radicalism

The Philosophy of “Pager Mangkok” An Early Warning System from East Java to Prevent Violent Extremism
October 21, 2019

By: Veronika Ata – Director of YKBH Justitia –

Radicalism, intolerance and terrorism often occur in Indonesia. These events greatly disturb the peace of personal as well as community life. Almost every day news comes to us through electronic and print media on acts related to these three topics.

Radicalism and intolerance are always related to religion and also to certain ethnic groups. Even though religion teaches us to be kind and to love others, the followers of radicalism and intolerance have misused the interpretation of religion to attack fellow citizens. Certain groups that feel they are the majority in their religion, act arbitrarily, lack respect and even tend to discriminate against fellow religious minorities and ethnic groups.

In 13 May 2018, 3 churches in Surabaya were bombed while people were worshipping. This bombing was carried out by a family radicalized by Islamic terrorists. This attack was carried out by a husband, wife, and their 4 children ages 18, 16, 12 and 9. On the following day a police station was also bombed in the city. This attack was carried out by a husband and wife and 3 of their small children. This use of a family to carry out a terrorist act is new and a shock for many.

Radicalism and intolerance have a wide impact on the life of the nation. The group that is most vulnerable to being affected is the younger generation, as they are targeted to join groups that adhere to radical ideas. Eventually they are brainwashed and trained to attack, persecute and even kill fellow citizens.

Their actions violate the terms of the agreement made by many countries on the General Declaration of Human Rights and are not in accordance with the noble ideals of the Indonesian people to advance public welfare, and strive for world peace based on Pancasila and the 1945 Constitution. Long ago, on 28 October 1928, Indonesia youth from several organizations adopted a solemn oath for all youth (Sumpah Pemuda) “Satu bangsa Indonesia, Satu bahasa Indonesia dan Bertanah Air Satu Indonesia – One Indonesian People, One Indonesian Language and One Indonesian Nation.” This is an oath of solidarity to prevent radical forces from destroying the peace, harmony and unity of all ethnic groups in the country.

This means that Indonesia does not see a majority or minority; all citizens have the same rights and obligations. It is commonly understood that majority groups should protect and respect minority groups. Not the opposite, where the majority group marginalizes, controls and even discriminates against the minorities.

The province of East Nusa Tenggara (NTT) as an archipelago, consists of three major islands: Timor, Flores and Sumba as well as several other small islands inhabited by some 75 ethnic groups and approximately 500 sub-ethnic groups. These include ethnic groups from Java, Bali, Sulawesi, Batak / Sumatra and others that are scattered throughout NTT.

In relation to the economy and trade, the NTT Province from the cities to the villages are controlled by the ethnic Chinese who have been here for hundreds of years and have integrated into local communities. In addition there are also ethnic Javanese and Madurese, Sulawesi (Bugis-Makassar) who also share control the markets and the economy.

In addition to having various ethnic, sub-ethnic, cultural, linguistic and religious characteristics, NTT also borders with the newly formed country of Timor-Leste, which can also be a potential target for radicalism and terrorist activities.

The spread of radicalism and intolerance in NTT has occurred even though the level of public tolerance for religious diversity is still high.  NTT is an open archipelago of many islands which makes access from outside very easy. Infiltrations of terrorist minded groups have increased over the years in NTT because of this easy access.

In 2015 there was an arrest of Syarif, a Bima terrorist who was on the police ‘Most Wanted List’, who committed a terrorist act in Siru Village, Lembor District, West Manggarai District, NTT. In 2016 a terrorist network was also discovered and it’s members arrested on the island of Alor. This network was linked with Syamsudin Uba from Bekasi Jakarta and Zakaria Kamarudin from Balikpapan, East Kalimantan (Tempo, 10 May, 2017).

A terrorist attack also occurred on the island district of Sabu Raijua in NTT. In response to the incident, the Legal Aid Foundation Yayasan Konsultasi dan Bantuan Hukum (YKBH) Justitia, went to the island to provide counseling and legal services to the victims and their families. Their report stated that on the morning of 13 December 2016, children at the Seba Public Elementary School, in Sabu Raijua District were attacked by a 32 year old male disguised as a travelling salesman. This person entered several classes in the school and was able to cut the necks of 8 elementary school students before he could be subdued. This event had a traumatic effect on these 8 children, and the schools, families and communities in Sabu Raijua District. Based also on information from print media, online media and the police, this attacker was seen with a larger group of 7 people. This group was chased by the police and one was shot, the others escaped to a ship which was later captured by the police.

In another incident, it was verified by the police that the Khilafatul Muslimin group, linked to the international terrorist Sarifudin, had been carrying out a propaganda campaign in the West Manggarai District on Flores Island. This district is located on an open coastal area that is closely accessed by people from the Bima District, West Nusa Tenggara where known terrorist groups exist. Similarly, in the West Sumba District, which is also located in an open coastal area has very close access to same Bima District.

The island districts of Lembata and Alor, also provide ready access to and from Sulawesi, where there are traces of Syamsudin sympathizers.

Until now, HTI (Hizb ut-Tahrir Indonesia) members or followers recorded in NTT have reached approximately 100 people. In addition to HTI, people must also be aware and vigilant of other organizations that adhere to the ideology of the Caliphate.

Responding to the teachings of radicalism and terrorism, it is necessary to advocate the dangers of the rise of radicalism and terrorism in NTT, so that communities, school students, and university students are kept informed. This will counter efforts by terrorist groups to radicalize the minds of the young and prevent them from becoming the enemy of other religious groups and society in general.

Education and awareness must be provided to the young generation on nationalism, and the importance of tolerance, harmony, diversity and peace. There is a strong need to expressly convey information on the dangers of terrorism, intolerance and radicalism that undermine peace, creates fear and revenge, and endangers national unity.

Violence in any form and with any pretext must be rejected and eradicated. Radicalism, intolerance and terrorism are common enemies of the people. We must embody the order of life in the nation and in peace and security promote the spirit of Pancasila, the 1945 Constitution, the concept of Unity in Diversity (Bhineka Tunggal Ika) and within the framework of the United Republic of Indonesia strive for world peace.


20 November 2018


Veronika Ata SH, MHum

Director of YKBH Justitia




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