Indonesians frustrated after attacks

Player utilities

Listen to the Story.

Audio Transcript:

Rebecca Henschke reports that Indonesians are frustrated and angry over last month's terrorist attacks in the capital, Jakarta. They want the world to know that the terrorists who carried out the attacks do not represent the true face of their nation. And they're going on-line to do it.

KATY CLARK: When the Indonesian capital, Jakarta, was hit by suicide bomb blasts earlier this month, it deeply shocked the nation. The attacks on two luxury hotels were the first terrorist attacks in Indonesia in almost four years. Most people thought such events were behind them. To air their feelings of frustration and anger, a large number of Indonesian young people jumped online. Rebecca Henschke has the story of their movement, Indonesia Unite.


REBECCA HENSCHKE: "We are not afraid! We are not a nation that can be tricked." Raps the MC in this newly released Indonesian hip-hop track.

PANJI PRAGOWAKSONO: It's not about that the Indonesian people are frightened, it's the image the international world is getting.

REBECCA HENSCHKE: Panji Pragowaksono, a popular entertainer, is the artist behind this track.

PANJI PRAGOWAKSONO: I thought that we shouldn't react the way they want us to react because when they choose a bomb they weren't, their primary objective wasn't to kill people, they were trying to intimidate people. So my focus was on, we shouldn't do what they expect us to do. They want us to be as afraid, we shouldn't be afraid.


REBECCA HENSCHKE: Today his track Indonesia is Not Afraid has become the theme song for Indonesia Unite, a movement of young tech-savvy Indonesians who want to tell the world that they don't agree with terrorism. In the wake of the Jakarta hotel bombings, they flooded the social networking site Twitter with short messages and decorated their usernames with red and white, the colors of the Indonesian flag. Daniel Tumiwa who was at the bombsite was the first to post.

DANIEL TUMIWA: Someone used the word Lets Unite and then Indonesia unite, and then someone else added onto it and said, we are not afraid, and that's the word that actually snowballed.

REBECCA HENSCHKE: As a result 'Indonesia Unite' became the number one topic worldwide on Twitter following the bomb blasts and remains in the top ten today. Tumiwa says it showed the maturing use of online media in Indonesia.

DANIEL TUMIWA: What this media helped everyone to do is that they felt that, I'm not alone. And if we do go to the streets, even the next day, there'll be hundreds of thousands of people supporting me. And that's empowered the people to quickly overcome their fear.

REBECCA HENSCHKE: Most of the Indonesia Unite movement is based in Jakarta, a modern city where the majority practices a moderate form of Islam.


REBECCA HENSCHKE: But in some villages and Islamic boarding schools in rural Java, a different message is being taught. Noor Huda in his teens was a student at the notorious Islamic boarding school Ngruki, and was roommates with one of the Bali bombers convicted after the first terrorist attack of 2002. He is now a South East Asian terrorism scholar. He says to effectively combat terrorism, young offenders must be brought into the mainstream.

NOOR HUDA: Arresting them and locking them in jail won't stop their movement. History has demonstrated to us, even killing their leader doesn't stop their ideology. What we need to do is, you know, to mainstream that ideology, to join us. Force them, involve them in any social activities, do not corner them all the time, and then try to understand their grievances as well. Understanding them doesn't mean that we support them.

REBECCA HENSCHKE: Indonesia has focused on weakening militant groups in the country by winning cooperation from captured terrorists and convincing people that this is not a war on Islam. Defense Minister, Juwono Sudarsono, believes the key to stopping terrorism is to provide people with economic opportunities and hope.

JUWONO SUDARSONO: The root cause is that these young people, who happen to be Muslim, have no hope in the future, they have nothing to lose that's why they are easily attracted to this kind of visionary claims that they will become heroes in the eyes of their fellow Muslims.

REBECCA HENSCHKE: And do you think you're winning that struggle at the moment, or is it still at a stage where it can go either way in Indonesia?

JUWONO SUDARSONO: I think we have to increase the rate of successes. The key of foreign support is to provide only technical assistance, discreet technical assistance is much more legitimate in the eyes of the Muslim community and it's possible to have effective in the long run because we arrest them on the basis of our own laws not on at the insistence of foreign powers.

REBECCA HENSCHKE: Following the bombings, Australia issued a travel advisory, cautioning its citizens about visiting neighboring Indonesia. And the US continues to urge Americans to be careful while traveling in the country. Indonesian rap artist Panji says these travel warnings are a slap in the face.

PANJI PRAGOWAKSONO: Do you know that when 911 tragedy happened, it was the biggest terrorist tragedy but nobody made a travel warning to the US. But when it comes to us, and we need you, and we need the people around the world to come here. And I know you love Bandung, I know you love Yogyakarta, yeah lift the travel warning.

REBECCA HENSCHKE: For the World this is Rebecca Henschke in Jakarta.