Indonesia hopes for more airport Hajj clearance next year

Indonesian pilgrims arrive at Prince Mohammad bin Abdulaziz International Airport in Madinah. (File/SPA)
Updated 26 July 2019

Indonesia hopes for more airport Hajj clearance next year

  • ndonesian pilgrims have benefited from the initiative since it was introduced last year in Soekarno Hatta Airport in Tangerang, Banten province
  • About 40 Saudi immigration officials have been assigned to work in the clearance process during the 30-day Hajj departure period

JAKARTA: Indonesia hopes fast tracking for its Hajj pilgrims, known as the “Makkah Road” initiative, will be expanded to at least two more airports in Java next year, which serve as embarkation points from the country’s most populated island and its neighbors, a government official said Thursday.
Indonesian pilgrims have benefited from the initiative since it was introduced last year in Soekarno Hatta Airport in Tangerang, Banten province, which serves pilgrims from Lampung, West Java and Banten provinces as well as Jakarta.
About 40 Saudi immigration officials have been assigned to work in the clearance process during the 30-day Hajj departure period.
Last year, fast tracking processed 30 percent of Indonesia’s pilgrims.
“Even though it was introduced last year, the service is still only available in Soekarno Hatta Airport. To be able to provide it in other airports would depend on the availability of Saudi immigration officials and whether the other airports have the infrastructure to support it,” Ramadhan Harisman, the secretary of religious affair’s directorate general for Hajj and Umrah services, told Arab News.

He said Indonesia hoped to eventually fast-track Hajj immigration clearance services at all 13 airports that ran routes to Saudi Arabia to perform Hajj.
“Next year we hope to be able to have the fast-track clearance in Surabaya and Solo. The two airports there are also among the busiest, serving a huge number of pilgrims” Harisman said.
“The two airports are ready, we just need to finalize it with Saudi officials,” he added.
The Surabaya Airport will this year serve 38,150 pilgrims from East Java, Bali and East Nusa Tenggara, while Solo airport will serve 34,171 pilgrims from Central Java and Yogyakarta.
If the fast-track clearance is provided in the two airports in addition to Jakarta, the service would be able to process up to 140,000 pilgrims or more than 60 percent out of Indonesia’s pilgrims.
Indonesia is sending the largest number of Hajj pilgrims this year after it received an increase in its Hajj quota to 231,000 pilgrims.
Harisman said the number of pilgrims that have departed as per 25 July is 134,648 and the last departure is scheduled to take place on August 5. At least 17 have died during the pilgrimage, including a man from from Indramayu, West Java, who died on the plane just two hours before it arrived in King Abdul Aziz airport earlier this week.

Indonesia targets ‘virus’ of religious radicalization

Indonesia’s Vice President Ma’ruf Amin says the government is on a quest to stop the spread of radicalism. (AN photo by Yudhi Sukma Wijaya)
Updated 25 February 2020

Indonesia targets ‘virus’ of religious radicalization

  • Vice President Ma’ruf Amin shares concern over former Indonesian Daesh members who want to return home
  • There are 600 former jail inmates under observation of national counterterrorism agency BNPT

JAKARTA: The Indonesian government has decided not to repatriate hundreds of citizens who joined Daesh in a bid to counter the rise of radicalization in its society.

President Joko Widodo said on Feb. 12 that the government was prioritizing the security of its 260 million population by reducing their exposure to terrorist attacks from those who had fought for Daesh.
Indonesia has experienced a number of attacks by people linked to militant groups that support Daesh. Recent attacks include a suicide bombing at a police headquarters in November and an attack on the then-chief security minister, Wiranto — a retired general who like many Indonesians uses one name — who was stabbed in the abdomen last October by a man affiliated to a Daesh-supporting network.
Chief Security Minister Mohammad Mahfud MD said that there were 689 people in camps in Syria — most of them women and children — who said they come from Indonesia, based on data provided by the CIA, the the Red Cross and other agencies.
The government will consider on a case-by-case basis whether to repatriate children aged 10 or younger, and based on whether they have parents or are orphaned.
Mahfud said that the government was concerned that if foreign terrorist fighters were repatriated they could become a dangerous new “virus” for the country.
Indonesians who had been repatriated from Syria have to take part in a government-sponsored deradicalization program for a month.
In addition, the national counterterrorism agency BNPT has rolled out deradicalization programs for terror convicts incarcerated in more than 100 correctional facilities. It continues to monitor at least 600 former jail inmates who have served their terms and are undertaking empowerment programs to prevent them from rejoining fellow militants.
Vice President Ma’ruf Amin has been tasked with the responsibility of coordinating efforts to take on radicalization. His credentials as a senior Muslim cleric are expected to carry weight in countering the spread of hardline Islamic teachings.


260m - Total population of Indonesia.

689 - Number of people in Syrian camps who say they are from Indonesia.

600 - Number of inmates under observation of national counterterrorism agency BNPT.

In an exclusive interview with Arab News, septuagenarian Amin, who is chairman of the Indonesian Ulema Council, although in an inactive capacity, acknowledged his background as a religious figure was the reason why President Widodo assigned him to the task.
“We want to instill a sense of religious moderation and develop a nationalist commitment,” he said.
He added that the government did not want former Daesh members who claimed to be Indonesians bringing “a plague” to the country, becoming “a new source of radicalism” if they were repatriated.
The government uses the term “radical terrorism” to avoid confusion with other types of radicalism.

Hundreds of Indonesians joined Daesh in Syria, to fight against President Bashar Assad. (Getty)

Amin said that prevention and law enforcement were required to combat terrorism. While Indonesia has gained international recognition for its counterterrorism efforts, there remains much to do to curb the spread of radical terrorism, he said.
“If radicalism turns into action, it could become terrorism, so we begin from their way of thinking and we realign their intolerant thoughts, which are the source of radicalism. We deradicalize those who have been exposed,” Amin said.
There are five provinces where the spread of radicalism and terrorism have been particularly being targeted: Aceh, Riau, Central Sulawesi, West Kalimantan and East Java.
Amin said that the government was on a quest to prevent the spread of religious radicalism in Indonesia.
“The cause of terrorism and radicalism could be triggered by religious teachings, the economic situation, injustice, therefore it takes a comprehensive approach from upstream to downstream,” Amin said.
A coordinated approach involves various government agencies and institutions, and begins with early childhood education through to college.
“We want to instill religious moderation, a sense of nationalism and patriotism and introduce Pancasila into early childhood education,” Amin said, referring to the country’s foundation principles.
According to the Global Threat Landscape report issued in January by Singapore’s International Center for Political Violence and Terrorism Research at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), deradicalization programs targeting women and children are necessary given the growing number of women involved in terrorist activities. The programs need to be different to those provided for male militants.
The report found that family networks which include wives would continue to play a part in militant activities in Indonesia this year. Family units are likely to be involved in future attacks as some pro-Daesh families have indoctrinated their children with its ideology.
Previous attacks have seen women and children involved in attacks such as the suicide bombing in Surabaya targeting churches and a police headquarters in 2018.
Asked if the BNPT efforts have been enough to counter radicalization in Indonesia, Amin said that the program was on track, but in the future the government aimed to have a more focused target supported by cooperation with government agencies.
 “We expect the results would be much better than what has been achieved so far,” he said.