Indonesia: Spies behind Islamic deviant sects, says religious leader

Jakarta, Indonesia – The head of Indonesia’s top government-sanctioned Islamic organisation has blamed foreign powers and radical Islamists for the string of deviant Islamic sects that have surfaced in the country in the last few years.

Ichwan Sam, general secretary of the Majelis Ulama Indonesia (MUI) or Indonesian Ulama Council, said the ‘plotters’ are bent on weakening and splitting Indonesia, the country with the world’s largest Muslim population.

“Their real objective is not the Muslim community. The real objective is to break the unity of Indonesia. We have officers to follow up this issue, but we won't talk about it now, otherwise it will be chaotic," he said.

The NII is the ‘Negara Islam Indonesia’ and refers to a political movement in the early 1950s of an Islamic state established in West Java.

The proponents of the NII were followers of the ‘Darul Islam,’ a radical Islamic movement still active in some parts of Java where it has led to the rise of radical Islamists groups, including Jemaah Islamiyah, now Southeast Asia’s most dangerous terrorist organisation.

Several Islamic sects, locally labelled as deviant and blasphemic, have sprouted in Indonesia since the fall of the Suharto regime in 1998.

Experts claim the phenomenon is a sign of increased religious freedom, which has led to an attempt to mould Islam into a religion closer to Indonesian culture and ancient animist beliefs.

The inability of most Indonesians to read Arabic script is also believed to be a reason behind the various interpretations.