Thousands of books on radical Islam still widely available in Indonesia: Researcher

A kindergarten textbook containing radical messages in Depok, West Java.
A kindergarten textbook containing radical messages in Depok, West Java.PHOTO: JAKARTA POST/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

JAKARTA (THE JAKARTA POST/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Some 5,000 books on radical Islam are still widely available throughout Indonesia, rising concerns that they may hamper the government's efforts to fight terrorism in the wake of this month's attacks in Jakarta, a researcher said on Friday (Jan 22).

One example, said Mr Ali Asghar, secretary of the National Security Studies Centre of Jakarta-based Bhayangkara University, is a book written by influential Egyptian author Sayyid Qutb called Fi Zilal Al-Quran (In the Shade of the Quran), which is a favourite among Indonesian readers.

The book, which has been translated into Indonesian, contains passages promoting the Islamic sharia law and claims that any country that does not implement it is evil.

"(Such books) may trigger some readers to commit terrorist acts," said Mr Ali at a public symposium in Jakarta, urging the government to monitor the spread.

He noted that readers of radical books are usually well-educated and secular.

"The buyers of radical books are not people who only graduated from Islamic boarding schools. On the contrary, they graduated from some reputable public universities in Indonesia," Mr Ali said.

Radical Islamic messages which slam the government for its secularism are also dispersed through religious flyers distributed during Friday prayers, he said.

Meanwhile, media reports said a textbook for kindergarten students in Depok, West Java reportedly contained radical messages such as "Sahid di medan jihad" [die as a jihadist], "Rela mati bela agama" [willingly die for religion], "Hati-hati zona bahaya" [warning, dangerous zone] and "Bahaya sabotase" [danger of sabotage].

Four gunmen linked to the Islamic State terrorist group launched coordinated attacks in Jakarta on Jan 14, killing four civilians and injuring dozens of people.

The attacks prompted the government to announced plans to strengthen measures to counter terrorism, including deradicalisation of convicted terrorists.