Jakarta Declaration on Violent Extremism and Religious Education: A calling to unite against extremism
In recent years, the world has witnessed a new wave of violent extremism, including in South East Asia. In Indonesia itself, the number of violent conflicts which relates to religious-based violence and intolerance has been steadily increasing in the last ten years. There is also an increasing tendency of intolerance such as exclusion of minorities. According to a national survey done in 2017, almost 60 percent of high school and university students in Indonesia admitted to having “radical” religious attitudes.
Religious education has been identified as an important factor related to violent extremism, which can have either a positive or a negative impact. While religious education in principle aims to promote the value of peace, diversity and inclusiveness, research as shown that religious education teachers are often not only lacking pedagogical skills but also promoting violent or radical content.
Recognizing the central role that religious education plays in preventing violent extremism, over two hundred religious education practitioners, representatives from government, the civil society, community based and faith-based organizations as well as academic institutions from 11 countries of Southeast Asia and beyond formally expressed their commitment to prevent violent extremism by adopting the “Jakarta Declaration on Violent Extremism and Religious Education” on 13 December 2017.
The Declaration laid out specific points for action needed to effectively counter and prevent violent extremism. It highlights that religion, particularly religious education, has untapped potential and resources to achieve this. It also underlines the need to strengthen dialogue and engagement among religious institutions as an important part of religious education. Specifically, the Declaration is a commitment:
- To denounce any acts of violence in its various forms, including in the name of religion and ideology;
- To advocate government to review and regulate policies on religious education that nurtures tolerant, respect, and inclusive attitude including towards minority groups;
- To strengthen engagement with communities and work with them to be more resilient in countering and preventing violent extremism and building social cohesion that may embrace both survivors and perpetrators;
- To intensify inter- and intra-faith dialogue and engagement as an indispensable part of religious education both formal and informal;
- To promote religious literacy, particularly among religious leaders and to improve capacity of religious education teachers;
- To build capacity of parents and caregivers in facilitating a holistic development of children, including their spiritual and psycho-social development;
- To commit towards mainstreaming gender equality in religious education;
- To empower youth to be front liner in countering and preventing violent extremism, particularly towards their peers;
- To encourage everyone to be more pro-active in advocating peaceful messages, including through internet and social media;
- To strengthen religious education network as a platform for sharing lessons learned and exchanging best practices on preventing violent extremism.
The Declaration also underlines that violent extremism has multi dimensions and religion is only one part of them. The Jakarta Declaration on Violent Extremism and Religious Education as a call to unite against extremism and is aligned with the objectives of the United Nations and the objective of the UN Secretary General’s Plan of Action to Prevent Violent Extremism.
The Declaration was adopted at the concluding session of a regional workshop on the prevention of violent extremism through religious education. It aims to become a reference for all those engaged in this field and in the promotion of peace and tolerance in Southeast Asia and beyond.
The full version of “Jakarta Declaration on Violent Extremism and Religious Education” can be accessed here
 The Center for Islam and Society Studies of Jakarta Syarif Hidayatullah State Islamic University’s national survey titled, “Fire on Chaff: Study on Religiosity within Gen Z,” with total 1859 high-school and university student respondents across the country.
 The Declaration was adopted in conjunction with the regional workshop on “Violent Extremism and Religious Education in Southeast Asia”, from 11-13 December 2017. The workshop was co-hosted by Center for Islam and Society Studies of Jakarta Syarif Hidayatullah State Islamic University (PPIM UIN) through CONVEY project of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). This is also in line with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in particularly goal 16 “Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions. The workshop comprises of 200 delegates coming from government, academe and civil societies background in Southeast Asia and other countries such as Pakistan, Afghanistan and Maldives. The delegates came and exchange information in efforts to further grow the practice of tolerance and inclusiveness.