Young Indonesians go online to defy bombers
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Last Updated: Saturday, August 01, 2009, 13:12
  
Jakarta: Young Indonesians are sending a defiant message to extremists behind the deadly July 17 bombings of two Jakarta hotels: "We are not afraid."

An internet campaign against terrorism in response to the attacks on the JW Marriott and Ritz-Carlton hotels has come into vogue among young, technology-savvy Indonesians with its slogans "Indonesia unite!" and "We are not afraid".

A profile for IndonesiaUnite on the popular social-networking site Facebook has picked up nearly 200,000 members, and IndonesiaUnite also became the most popular topic for some time on the microblogging site Twitter.

National television channels have also amplified the message by inviting key people behind the movement to speak on their shows.

The hotel attacks -- which killed nine people, including two suspected suicide bombers and six foreigners -- sparked fears of a return of turmoil to Indonesia after a few years of calm.

But analysts said Indonesia's economic and political stability is strong enough to overcome the fallout from the bombings.

"Say and show that we are not afraid of all acts of terrorism," said a message on the campaign's website, indonesiaunite.com. "Go about your business as usual, but stay alert."

The website also urged Indonesians to raise national flags and buy local products.

"What IndonesiaUnite aims to achieve is to reach the heart of every Indonesian who cares about driving the nation forward and doing something about it," said Aulia Masna, a blogger and one of the key proponents of the campaign.

"Terrorism can be extinguished through education, tolerance, welfare and understanding because people who don't have these things could be crazy enough to murder their fellow countrymen," he said.

The IndonesiaUnite movement has also distributed T-shirts printed with the slogan "We are not afraid" and composed a theme song of the same title to spread the message of defiance against terrorists.

Supporters were planning to bring the campaign offline by organising events across the country in the run-up to Indonesia's independence day Aug 17, Aulia said.

To do so could widen the reach of the campaign because only about 30 million of Indonesia's 230 million people have access to the internet.

Police said they suspect the attacks two weeks ago were carried out by Islamic extremists linked to Jemaah Islamiyah, a regional militant group blamed for a string of deadly bombings in Indonesia this decade, notably the 2002 Bali bombings, in which 202 people were killed.

No suspect has been arrested in the latest bombings, but police have launched a nationwide hunt for Malaysian-born fugitive Noordin Mohammed Top, who is believed to be the leader of a violent Jemaah Islamiyah splinter group.

Noor Huda Ismail, an expert in Islamic militancy in Indonesia, said the IndonesiaUnite campaign signalled increasing willingness among Indonesians to openly confront radicalism.

"In the past, there was silence and the voice of the moderate majority was drowned out by the radical minority fringe," Noor Huda said. "It's good to see that people speak up. It's fascinating."

Militants have also used the internet to get their message across.

An internet statement purportedly signed by Noordin on behalf of a group calling itself Tandzim Al-Qaeda Indonesia said the hotel attacks targeted "top businessmen and intelligence operatives linked to the US economy" bent on "plundering Indonesia's resources".

The statement, posted on the internet blog mediaislam-bushro.blogspot.com, said the attacks were tributes to two militants killed in police raids in 2005 and 2006, bomb-maker Azahari bin Husin and Jabir. Experts said they were unsure whether the statement is authentic.

Indonesia's anti-terrorism police force, which has received assistance from Australia and the US, has not only won praise for its crackdown on militants involved in past attacks but also for its de-radicalisation approach, which includes employing reformed militants to wean radicals away from terrorism.

Bureau Report


First Published: Saturday, August 01, 2009, 13:12


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