Riau police take steps to prevent spread of radicalism

File photo of Indonesians protesters holding a demonstration in support of Muslim clerics at the National Monument in Jakarta.
File photo of Indonesians protesters holding a demonstration in support of Muslim clerics at the National Monument in Jakarta.PHOTO: AFP

JAKARTA • Police on Indonesia's Riau Islands, which include Batam and Bintan, are increasing security measures to monitor hardline Islamist groups and prevent the spread of religious teachings that could lead to radical behaviour.

The move comes amid rising official concerns over the spread of radical views on Indonesian university campuses.

Riau Islands' police spokesman, Senior Commander Saptono Erlangga, said the police had obtained a list of names of people registered as members of hardline Islamist groups that often led religious sermons in Muslim communities in the province, especially in Batam.

"We have the records and we are monitoring them routinely. As long as their activities do not harm the people, we will only monitor their activities," he said.

He refused to name radical preachers on the list, saying: "As long as the content of their sermons is fine, we will let it happen."

Riau Islands' police spokesman, Senior Commander Saptono Erlangga, said the police had obtained a list of names of people registered as members of hardline Islamic groups that often led religious sermons in Muslim communities in the province, especially in Batam.

A circular issued by the Bangka Belitung Islands Police on April 28 asked all mosque administrators to report individuals or groups that had used their mosques to hold religious activities or deliver sermons to Muslim communities in the area. The letter has since been widely distributed on social media .

Batam was the source of a plot uncovered last year to launch a rocket attack on Singapore. Six men aged between 19 and 46 were arrested there in August and September after being under surveillance.

Police said their terror cell, called Katibah GR, or Cell GR, had been planning a rocket attack on Marina Bay assisted by a Syrian-based Indonesian supporter of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.

Meanwhile, Indonesia's Research and Technology and Higher Education Ministry is working on a regulation designed to control the spread of radical views on campuses. It said all academic elements from students to lecturers have been influenced by radicalism, which creates a risk of national disintegration.

"We are preparing the anti-radicalism regulation as an anticipatory measure," said Research and Technology and Higher Education Minister Mohammad Nasir last Saturday.

He added that rectors of universities had to be held accountable if students or lecturers became entrapped in radical movements.

The National Counterterrorism Agency's head, General Suhardi Alius, said students, as the nation's next generation, had to be kept away from radicalism, drug abuse and other negative influences.

"Therefore, lecturers, deans and rectors must be able to detect any of their students acting suspiciously," he said.

JAKARTA POST/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 09, 2017, with the headline 'Riau police take steps to prevent spread of radicalism'. Print Edition | Subscribe