Indonesia (ODM/MNN) — As brutal as the Islamic State terror group is, it might be surprising to note that children are joining their clubs in Syria called “Cubs of the Caliphate.”
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says the social groups are being used as a means of recruiting and training new members.
Indoctrination into the ISIS ideology at such an early age is troubling. It seemingly lays the foundation for the next generation to carry ISIS forward and send down deep roots.
David Curry, President and CEO of Open Doors USA, explains, “In countries where there’s a Muslim population that dominates, you have a theology that is present. Sometimes, people don’t even know that it’s present; but underground, there are sects, there are extremists.”
How do you set down deep roots quickly?
ISIS is turning to the schools, says Curry. “They’re trying to push their extremist theology through the schools, through textbooks. By and large, the message that these children are getting in Indonesia–[students] who see this textbook–is that it’s okay to kill people who are not Islamic.”
There are unsettling reports that ISIS has set up shop in the radicalized parts of Indonesia.
Open Doors’ contacts confirm reports of an Islamic religion textbook being used in a senior high school in an East Java province. It carries a statement that “people who worship other than Allah [non-Muslims] should be killed.” It’s not a huge leap to wonder if ISIS’ presence and the change in curriculum are connected.
This question was echoed by local media, which reported that this might be a sign of deeper infiltration of the Islamic State into the Indonesian education system. Some suspect that identical books have been distributed to other provinces. This was also reported when ISIS took territory in Iraq and Syria.
The method is thorough, taking over the judicial system (Sharia), the executive system (ISIS), and the education system.
Curry says, “The extremists begin to use textbooks, begin to use the laws and the government when they’re put in charge, to codify their theology.” Open Doors sources add that while fundamentalist teachings are common in Islamic boarding schools, it is the first time they have reached Indonesian government-run schools, where a majority of Indonesians attend.
Why East Java? The region is one of the most hostile places for Indonesian Christians to live. It has witnessed assaults of believers, such as the multiple stabbings of an evangelist while he was asleep. The presence of literature hostile to Christians could further justify violence in the name of religion. “People being chased out of their homes for converting to Christianity–these kinds of things are happening in episodes around the country,” notes Curry. The impact? Gospel work can get very tricky. “What you can have is a very chilling effect; and eventually, what you can have is a very hostile effect.”
Pray for the followers of Christ in the region, that they would be wise but also not be intimidated into silence. Pray for opportunities for Christians to share their faith stories. Believers are hoping the government would step in and ban the textbooks, so would you join them in praying that the government would take firm action?
Indonesia is ranked #47 on the Open Doors 2015 World Watch List of the worst persecutors of Christians. Last year more than 30 churches of various denominations were forced to close and/or were attacked. Approximately 87% of Indonesia is Muslim and over 8% Christian.