NUSA DUA, Indonesia, (Reuters) – When students at Indonesia’s prestigious Institute of Agricultural Studies swore an oath to support a caliphate in the world’s largest Muslim-majority country last year, a video of the event went viral and the government grew alarmed.
Months later, Indonesian President Joko Widodo banned the decades-old hardline group Hizb ut-Tahrir Indonesia (HTI), which organized the student pledge, and declared its goal to set up a caliphate was incompatible with the constitution and could threaten security.
Last month, under prodding from the government, thousands of students across the nation made an anti-radicalism pledge. It followed an unprecedented gathering in late September of some 3,000 academics in Bali, who also pledged to fight extremism and defend the secular constitution.
The campaign against extremism in education comes amid a rise of a hardline, politicized Islam in Indonesia, which until recently had occupied the fringe of the nation’s politics.