Academic journal article Nebula

Islamist Violence in Indonesia: Bringing the State Back In

Academic journal article Nebula

Islamist Violence in Indonesia: Bringing the State Back In

Article excerpt

The current state of Islamist militancy in Indonesia has yielded a somewhat conflicting set of outcomes, both in relation to the future of Jihadist activism and how best to respond to it. On the one hand Southeast East (sic Indo) has not emerged as the "next front" of the global war on terror as Gersham (2002) predicted. And in fact we are not seeing the manifestation of the much feared slippery slope phenomenon where exposure to radical Islam will lead to increasingly large numbers of people taking up the idiom of violent extremism. And more interestingly we are not seeing militancy establish itself as the moral vanguard of a creeping cultural Islamisation of the state--i.e. the Pakistan phenomena. At the same time however the problem of acts of violence justified by and in defense of various strands of Islamist ideology has not abated. Alas, it seems then that Indonesia like a variety of other nation-states are confronted with an ongoing problem of a particular type of relapsing and remitting religiously justified "light insurgency" enacted against both apparatuses of the state and the perceived symbols of western modernity.

To elucidate this discussion I will engage several areas of analysis including: a brief historical analysis addressing the actors and ideologies at work in the trajectory of modern Islamism in Indonesia, an exposition on the efficacy of the response to the problem of violent militancy and finally an analysis detailing the vexed role of the state in being both an object of violence and an agent of radicalization. By highlighting these themes this paper will advance the position that the persistence of structural violence employed by the Indonesian state at various levels directly and indirectly creates conditions that increase the attractiveness of the groups that justify a violent agenda on Islamist precepts. Thus while the Indonesian state has taken an increasingly vigilant stand against activities of JI and the splinter cells it has inspired, it has been much slower in responding to other trends, in particular the Islamisation of street violence.

Islamism in Indonesia: Actors and Ideologies

The trajectory of Islam itself presents a particular problem if one wants to explain the persistence of violent religiosity in post-New Order Indonesia as a function of ideology. While we cannot discount the role that ideology plays in informing the world view of those who commit to a program of Islamist militancy, assessing the relationship between typologies of piety and the connection between certain types of groups and acts of violence requires a nuanced perspective. For the purposes of this work the delineations around the practice of Sunni Islam in Indonesia can be most accurately understood by assessing piety in terms of adherence to either Modernist or Traditionalists frameworks. Traditionalists adhere to a syncretised version of Islam that incorporates local (non-Muslim) customs into ecclesiastic rites, such ancestor veneration and saint worship. Conversely, Modernists subscribe to versions of revivalist ideology that seek to strip the practice of Islam from the various manifestations of "cultural innovation" that occurred as it was transmitted into the Malay world (Hooker 2003). It is important to note however that the modernist tent is a big a one and includes ideological frameworks ranging from versions of culturally austere Salafism (that reject politics and calls for a retreat into prayer) to the neo-modernist ideology of Muslim Brotherhood that espouse a distinctly political program to Islamize the state. When it comes to political activism, the Traditionalist tent is similarly broad, and over the past half century has included groups that range from benevolent Nahdatul Ulama to the violent activism of Dural Islam.

While the Traditionalist-Modernist divide is an important metric in understanding the broad delineations within the rubric Indonesian Islam, when it comes to assessing the trajectory of violent activism it presents some limitations. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.