Mosques in Indonesia’s capital Jakarta are preaching extremism and encouraging congregations, many of whom are government workers, to join the terrorist group Islamic State.
An investigation of 1,000 mosques by Indonesian intelligence services discovered 41 in one neighbourhood “preaching extremism”, while 17 imams expressed sympathy for Islamic State (IS) and encouraged members of their congregations to fight in Syria and in Marawi, the city in the southern Philippines which was overrun by jihadists in 2017.
A spokesman for Indonesian intelligence told journalists, “The majority of people who go to these mosques are government workers so that’s why this is alarming. These are the people who are running the country.”
Until a generation ago, Muslims and Christians lived peaceably and as equals in Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim country. But there have been a number of Islamist terror attacks in recent years and several targeting Christians.
Indonesian authorities have reported that more than 600 Indonesians travelled to Syria to join IS. In May 2018, three suicide bombers from the same Indonesian family attacked three churches on Surabaya, on the island of Java, killing 13 and injuring more than 40. Following the attacks, which were claimed by IS, police reported that the family had recently returned to Indonesia from Syria.