Indonesia developing strategies to confront radicalisation

Prof. Muljani A. Nurhadi, MEd., MS., Ed.D, representing the Ministry of Religious Affairs, thanking international contributors to the symposium The Strategic Role of Religious Education in the Development of a Culture of Peace.
From left: Prof  Shahram Akbarzadeh, Dep. Director Asia Institute, University of Melbourne, Geoff Boyce, Chaplain Flinders University of South Australia,  Prof Des Cahill, Prof Intercultural Studies, RMIT, Melbourne (obscured),  Prof Moner Bajunaid, Philippine Center for Islam and Democracy, Taufiq bin Raja Nurul Bahri, Rajaratman School of International Studies, Singapore, Rev Dr Ananias Iita, University of Namibia.

I have just returned from Indonesia, contributing to an international symposium The Strategic Role of Religious Education in the Development of a Culture of Peace at the invitation of the Ministry of Religious Affairs and the Centre for Research and Development of Religious Education and Religion of the Republic of Indonesia. I was invited to share my experiences of developing a culture of peace at Flinders University in the face of dominance by a hardline Christian group. My paper was entitled Welcoming the Stranger – Radical Hospitality as The Core Value of Peace-Building in an Age of Pluralism. (

About 30 papers were presented, from academic researchers and experienced practitioners. This was achieved by dividing the symposium participants into three streams – Peaceful Society, Radicalism and Education. Feedback from the discussions in each of these groups was gathered into a statement of conclusions and recommendations, which will become more widely available soon. One likely outcome is that the contributors to the symposium may be invited to form the foundations of a research network, with an international journal providing a means of networking and communication. It is likely a follow-up symposium will be held again next year to continue the conversation.

The underlying motivation of the symposium was concern about Islamic radicalisation, particularly among young people. I came away from the symposium impressed by a sense of urgency and determination among the organisers to find ways and means to address the challenges of religious radicalisation through education and to create a research base to inform leadership and support the ongoing development of strategy and policy development. The youthful, enthusiastic composition of the symposium organising committee bodes well for a strong Indonesian contribution to the international conversation within this domain in the future.

I returned home wondering what we were doing nationally about multiple religious perspectives and radicalization in Australia, and who might strategise and sponsor a parallel forum directed toward establishing foundations for a cohesive approach to supporting religious literacy and inter-religious harmony in Australia?

4 thoughts on “Indonesia developing strategies to confront radicalisation

  1. What a wonderful opening and great opportunities off meaningful dialogues & future actions! Much more newsworthy than the actions of a few crazies and a large ‘rent-a-crowd’. Well done Geoff!

  2. Dear DR. Boyce, this article is fantastic. I share this to the members of the steering committee. For Your information, we have been able to summarize all papers of the symposium and published them in the form of a book. Hopefully, the book will be distributed by the Ministry of Religious Affairs soon.


    1. Sharing with you all was the highlight of 2012 for me. I have very happy memories of being among friends!
      I look forward to hearing how the outcomes of the symposium progress.

      On the way back to Jakarta we had a good conversation about ways of helping teachers of religion, but limited by my lack of Indonesian language! We talked about me being a 'chaplain'. Although 'chaplaincy' is a Christian invention, as a result of our conversation, I wonder whether it could be very usefully adapted to your situation. Perhaps email me at if you would like to take this further.

      Incidentally, I met Iqbal Ahnaf in Jogjakarta afterwards through a mutual friend and had a meal with his family. And I have also caught up with Prof Moner Bajunaid when I was in Manila.

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