More children in Indonesia being radicalised: Ministry

This article is more than 12 months old

JAKARTA: New information released recently showed that Indonesia faces a growing threat of children being radicalised - either from exposure to extremist views online or influence from adults.

Its Social Affairs Ministry recently released 161 people who had completed the government's rehabilitation and deradicalisation programme and 75 of them were children.

"The children already had thoughts about fighting the government. They did not want to make eye contact when they first came to us," the ministry's social rehabilitation director Nahar told reporters on Saturday.

He said they had all either just returned from Syria or were about to go there.

The children had been exposed to extremist ideologies through parents, who were already linked to radical groups, in particular the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

The National Police and the National Counterterrorism Agency (BNPT) have been monitoring anyone, including children, who has shown an interest in going to Syria.

The Social Affairs Ministry, in cooperation with the Religious Affairs Ministry, the BNPT and the Densus 88 counter-terrorism squad, has been running the rehabilitation programme since August last year.

The BNPT also recently signed an agreement with the Indonesian Child Protection Commission on rehabilitating children who had been exposed to radicalism.

Mr Nahar said more are expected to join the programme soon. - THE JAKARTA POST/ANN