Indonesian Muslims say violence not allowed in Islam

Jakarta, Indonesia - Only 2 percent of Indonesian Muslims believe their religion allows violence against non-Muslims, a survey showed on Thursday, but organisers said the figure was still a worry in the country of 220 million.

The survey by private pollster Indo Barometer and the Wahid Institute revealed that 93 percent of Muslims in the world's most populous Muslim nation believe Islam does not allow militancy.

'A majority of Muslims said terrorism, violence, violent acts towards non-Muslims and using violence to fight vice is not allowed in Islam,' it said.

But it said, the survey also 'shows there is a group of people that could potentially be recruited to use violence against others on behalf of religion'.

Over 1,000 Indonesian Muslims from across Indonesia's 33 provinces were interviewed for the poll in May.

The Wahid Institute was founded by former Indonesian President Abdurrahman Wahid to promote plural and peaceful Islam. Earlier this month, it co-hosted an international meeting of religious leaders to denounce the Holocaust denial.

Indonesia is the world's fourth most populous country, 85 percent of whom follow Islam, giving the Asian archipelago the largest Muslim population of any nation in the world.

While the vast majority of Indonesia's Muslims are relatively moderate, there has been an increasingly vocal militant minority and political pressure for more laws that are in line with hardline Muslim teachings.

More than half of people interviewed said bombing attacks by militants are still a threat to Indonesia, which has witnessed a string of deadly attacks in recent years blamed on Southeast Asian militant group Jemaah Islamiah (JI).

Jemaah Islamiah is an armed movement backing the creation of an Islamic superstate linking Muslim Indonesia and Malaysia, and Muslim areas in the Philippines and Thailand.

In the past, it has cooperated closely with al Qaeda's global anti-Western campaign, but in recent years many in Jemaah Islamiah have focused more on the regional struggle.

Indonesia arrested two top JI leaders this month, dealing a blow to Islamic militants in the country, but experts believe they are still capable of mounting attacks.

It also showed that nearly 98 percent believed the curriculum of Islamic boarding schools, or pesantrens, is not responsible for the radical ideas of militants.

Indonesia has about 14,000 pesantrens, the vast majority of them being moderate and venerated, having educated many of the country's Muslim elite.

They also form the backbone of the 40-million member Nahdlatul Ulama, Indonesia's biggest moderate Muslim group that accounts for 12,000 of the registered schools.

The schools have been blamed for encouraging fundamentalism and Indonesian authorities have said they would monitor them as part of efforts to fight militant violence.

Two Muslim militants, Amrozi and and Mukhlas, who have been sentenced to death for the 2002 Bali nightclub bombings, studied at the Al-Mukmin Islamic school. The Brussels-based International Crisis Group has branded the school the 'Ivy League' of militants.