11/16/2021 Indonesia (International Christian Concern) – On November 3, anti-terrorism police arrested a man who is a teacher and the head of a state-run elementary school in Lampung province, Sumatra, Indonesia. The reason for the arrest was suspicion that the teacher was involved in terrorism. The man was arrested following arrests for two people who had worked with the teacher for Lembaga Amil Zakat Abdurrahman Bin Auf (AZABA), a charity with connections to terrorism, known for providing funding to the Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) terrorist network. The teacher who was arrested had served as the secretary of AZABA, and the other two people that had been arrested had served as chairman and treasurer. The funds collected by the AZABA charity have been used to fund JI in Indonesia and to send members to conflict zones like Syria and Afghanistan.
This incident does not represent anything new in Indonesia—teachers with ties to terrorism is not a new phenomenon. However, this is the first time that a state teacher is being charged with terrorism. This represents a crucial moment in the recruitment and training of state teachers as well as the state’s supervision of the schools they fund and oversee.
According to a study by the Habibie Center, over 30% of the Indonesian government has been influenced by radicalism, largely of the Islamic variety. This prompted the government and anti-terrorism agencies to more closely scrutinize civil servants working for the government. Additionally, according to a study by the Institute for the Study of Islam and Peace, over 76% of teachers in Indonesia support the implementation of Islamic Sharia law in the nation. Sharia law is known to be hostile to believers of other faiths, especially Christians. However, this recent arrest makes it clear that the government is trying to do something about Islamic terrorism support in state-run institutions, marking a promising sign for Christian religious freedom in Indonesia.
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