November 12, 2019 / 10:53 AM / 24 days ago

Indonesia urges public to report civil servants over 'radical' content

JAKARTA (Reuters) - Indonesia launched a website on Tuesday that would allow the public to report “radical” content posted by civil servants, as authorities in the world’s biggest Muslim-majority country push to combat hardline Islamist ideology permeating government.

Indonesia is officially secular but has seen a rise of conservatism with some politicians demanding a larger role for Islam, and some groups calling for an Islamic state.

Indonesian Communications Minister Johnny G. Plate told reporters the intention of the website was “to bring together and improve the performance of our civil servants, as well as to foster higher levels of nationalism.”

According to a frequently asked questions section, radical could refer to content containing elements of hate, misleading information, intolerance or anti-Indonesian sentiment.

This could also include civil servants liking or commenting positively on content deemed radical on social media.

Users can set up an account on the website - aduanasn.id - and report contents by providing screenshots or links.

Indonesia’s Security Ministry, the Administrative and Bureaucratic Reform Ministry and the anti-terrorism agency helped develop the website.

Ismail Hasani, executive director of the Setara Institute, a non-governmental organization (NGO) focused on human rights, expressed concern the move could threaten freedom of speech.

“It’s very dangerous if there are no agreed indicators. To this day, the government does not have indicators for radicalism and tolerance,” he said, adding civil servants with non-violent “radical” opinions could still be sanctioned.

Plate said guidelines would be issued on what was permissible, without elaborating.

Indonesia’s Religious Ministry has also announced plans to replace 167 Islamic textbooks deemed to contain radical or intolerant material in schools by the end of the year.

“The intention is so that religious teachings can make students more tolerant and appreciate others who are different from them,” said Kamaruddin Amin, director general for Islamic Education at the Ministry of Religious Affairs.

Indonesia also plans to tighten vetting of senior public servants to ensure they do not hold radical views, according to documents reviewed by Reuters in June and a senior official involved in the plan.

A 2017 survey by independent Jakarta-based pollster Alvara Research Center found one in five civil servants and 10 percent of state enterprise workers did not agree with the secular state ideology Pancasila, and instead favoured an Islamic theocratic state.

Slamet Maarif, head of the Alumni 212, a conservative Islamic group, told reporters on Monday that it would monitor the government’s anti-radicalism programmes.

“If the policy violates the values of justice or disrespects the majority of Muslims, we’ll fight,” he said.

Additional reporting and writing by Stanley Widianto; Editing by Ed Davies, Raju Gopalakrishnan

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