Radical ideologies thrive on campuses

The Jakarta Post, page 1

The growing support for radical ideologies, including those calling for the establishment of a transnational Muslim caliphate, at Indonesian universities has raised alarm over the future of the country’s unity and pluralism.

Such concern was evident on Thursday when Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs Minister Wiranto gathered dozens of vice rectors of student affairs from state and private universities in Greater Jakarta.

During the gathering, the minister told the members of academia that Indonesia was facing a new nonconventional threat to national security: the rise of radical ideologies that threaten the state ideology of Pancasila. These ideologies, he said, were also thriving on campuses.

Wiranto said Pancasila is our nation’s way of life, and when people begin comparing it to other philosophies, this already serves as a warning. There’s already an early attempt to obstruct out state ideology. He also added that any ideology that opposes Pancasila, may it be called right-wing, left-wing, or an extremist ideology, cannot be disseminated on university campuses.

The gathering came amid growing perception that Islamic radicalism is gaining ground across the country, with religious groups once considered as fringe now becoming more assertive and even playing a prominent role in the recent Jakarta election.

State Islamic University (UIN) Syarief Hidayatullah Jakarta vice rector of student affairs Yusron Razak acknowledged there were groups of students at the university that showed interest in the idea of caliphate or Muslim rule. He said this phenomenon did not only occur at Islamic university, but also at other state and private universities.

Recently, a video showing thousands of students at IPB Darmaga Campus pledging allegiance to the establishment of an Islamic state in Indonesia went viral. The video is said to be part of the National Symposium of Campus Propagation Institute (LDK) held by LDK Coordinator Agent (BLDK) in 2016. IPB officials said they had not attended the event.

The phenomena have put university administrations in a difficult position as they cannot ban students for simply showing interest in or discussing certain ideologies. Yusron stressed that even though some students expressed interest in creating a caliphate it did not mean they would engage in violence against Pancasila. He explained that in the name of intellectual freedom, discourses and discussions on any ideology should be allowed.

Similarly, Jakarta State University (UNJ) vice rector of students affairs Achmad Sofyan Hanif said the academics in universities could not ban their students for showing interest in caliphate ideology as long as they did not commit violence.

Wiranto, however, raised the possibility of taking drastic measures to stem the tide of radical ideologies on campuses, but said they would have to be discussed with university leaders first.

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