Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono calls Islamic State 'embarrassing'

Indonesian president condemns jihadists and urges Muslim leaders to unite against them

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 21 August, 2014, 11:17pm
UPDATED : Friday, 22 August, 2014, 12:39am


The president of the world's most populous Muslim-majority country, Indonesia, yesterday called the actions of Islamic State militants "embarrassing" to the religion and urged Islamic leaders to unite against extremism.

Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said the scale of the slaughter wrought by the extremists in overrunning large swathes of Iraq and Syria and the level of violence being used was appalling.

"It is shocking. It is becoming out of control," he said in an interview with
The Australian newspaper, a day after the group released a video showing a masked militant beheading US reporter James Foley.

"We do not tolerate it, we forbid Isis in Indonesia," he added, referring to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, as the group was formerly known.

"Indonesia is not an Islamic state. We respect all religions.

"This is a new wake-up call to international leaders all over the world, including Islamic leaders," he said, adding that the jihadis' actions were not only "embarrassing" to Islam but "humiliating", the paper reported.

"All leaders must review how to combat extremism. Changing paradigms on both sides are needed - how the West perceives Islam and how Islam perceives the West."

Jakarta has estimated that dozens of Indonesians have travelled to Syria and Iraq to fight and Yudhoyono said he was concerned about their return, adding that he had ordered agencies to oppose the spread of extremist ideology in the sprawling nation.

"Our citizens here in Indonesia are picking up recruitment messages from Isis containing extremist ideas," said the president, whose decade in office comes to an end in October.

"My government and security agencies have taken decisive steps to curtail the spread of Isis in Indonesia, including by prohibiting Indonesians to join Isis or to fight for Isis, and also by blocking internet sites that promote this idea."

Neighbouring Australia has also seen up to 150 of its nationals join the militants, with the photo of an Australian boy holding a severed head in Syria last week sparking condemnation.

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott yesterday said the Islamic State was "as close to pure evil as we're ever likely to find" and that what happened to Foley was "sickening".