Indonesian universities ramp up student monitoring to stop terrorism

Heads of 122 state universities across the country pledge to work with counterterrorist forces

July 6, 2018
Indonesia map
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Universities across Indonesia have signed an agreement with the country’s National Agency for Combating Terrorism (BNPT) to develop an intelligence body to monitor campus activities in a bid to prevent extremism.

The move follows a government warning that students are becoming increasingly vulnerable to radicalisation on university campuses in the conservative Muslim country, The Straits Times reported.

Last month, national counterterror police conducted a raid at the University of Riau on Sumatra Island, seizing explosives and other suspicious items. Three of the university’s alumni were arrested over an alleged plan to launch an attack on government buildings in Jakarta and Pekanbaru, the Jakarta Post reported.

After the raid, the leaders of 122 state-run universities met at the Ministry of Research, Technology and Higher Education in Jakarta.

Dwia Aries Tina Pulubuhu, rector of Hasanuddin University in Makassar, South Sulawesi, and head of the Indonesian Rector Forum, told the Jakarta Post that a specific new organisation was needed to detect signs of radicalism in universities. “When it was discovered that a radical group was operating on our campus, or someone was arrested [for radicalism], we learned about it from the news, not from the BNPT,” she said.

The new intelligence body will aim to identify potential extremism from the first signs, working directly with the BNPT to share any important information.

Earlier this year, an Indonesian Islamic university made global headlines for banning burkas on its campus in response to growing concerns of extremism. Sunan Kalijaga State Islamic University in Yogyakarta told its female students that they risked their right to graduate if they did not stop wearing full-face veils.

rachael.pells@timeshighereducation.com

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