When children are brought up to become terrorists, those in whose name they act must introspect
Across all cultures, the most intense personal tragedy and shattering fate to befall parents is to have their children go before them. It is inconceivable, therefore, for any parent, indeed any human being, to come to grips with the fact that Indonesia, which plays host to the world’s largest Muslim population, has seen 25 deaths (including those of 13 Islamic militants) in separate terror attacks over May 13 and 14 in its second-largest city, Surabaya, led by parents along with their children. What kind of cultish and perverse human beings, if at all the perpetrators of such acts can be so called, do this? It is time those in whose name the terrorists and their brainwashed, innocent children have launched such attacks — their co-religionists and believers in an ummah — introspect deeply on why ISIS or its local offshoots is attracting this level of blind faith from a section of believers and how they should stand against these sub-human terrorists in a substantive way rather than restricting themselves to issuing largely proforma statements of condemnation.
What the nature and mechanics of such a stand could be need to be discussed but before doing so, it must also be kept in mind that with the Muslim holy month of Ramadan (Ramzan) about to begin, the attacks on churches on Sunday and police on Monday were clearly aimed at inflaming passions. On Monday, suicide bombers on motorcycles accompanied by an eight-year-old child up to a checkpoint outside a police station in Surabaya and blew themselves up; the child, who survived but is critical, can be seen in CCTV footage stumbling around in the aftermath. Police suspected suicide Sunday’s attacks on churches were carried out by the head of a cell of the ISIS-inspired group Jemaah Ansharut Daulah (JAD), an umbrella organisation on a US State Department terrorist list that is believed reckoned to have drawn hundreds Indonesian ISIS sympathisers, along with his wife and four children (two sons and two daughters) aged between 9 and 18. Local authorities said it’s the JAD cell head may have acted in response to a call from ISIS for “cells throughout the world to mobilise.” In another terror incident, police recovered unexploded pipe bombs an apartment where an explosion killed three members of a family alleged to have been making bombs. Three children from the family, who had also been put to terror work, survived and have been hospitalised.
These, what President Joko Widodo has termed the “acts of cowards”, are the forces that are claiming to act on behalf of Muslims in Indonesia and the world over. The traditionally moderate form of Islam practised in the archipelago, with its accommodation of its pre-Islamic Indic and local traditions, has been in retreat over the past two decades with the rise of political Islam and later with its radical terror manifestation. So, pledges to push through new anti-terrorism laws and condemnation of the attacks from all mainstream Muslim groups in Indonesia while important, are not enough. Acceptance and internalising the primacy of the nation-state by citizens, working towards a cultural synthesis with the pre-Islamic heritage of a given nation and an end to extra-territorial loyalty, whether temporal or spiritual, is a way forward for Muslim-majority countries of the world to both distance themselves from the crazies and save their children.