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02/12/2020 Indonesia (International Christian Concern) – After weeks of intense debate in the nation, Indonesia’s government on Tuesday decided to ban citizens who joined the Islamic State in Syria from returning home, fearing they could pose a threat to national security.

Associated Press reports that the coordinating minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs, Mohammad Mahfud MD said, “The government has no plans to repatriate terrorists,” after a Cabinet meeting to discuss the return of more than 600 Indonesians held by authorities in Syria.

“The state should provide security for 267 million Indonesians from new terrorist viruses,” he said.

In addition, he said Indonesia will collect more data on the identities of people who joined radical groups in the Middle East.

Based on CIA’s records, he said some 689 Indonesian citizens are currently in Syria, of whom only 228 had been identified.

Given the dilemma between protecting national security and ensuring citizens’ rights, the authorities will still consider bringing children home, especially orphans.

In the Muslim-majority country, religious minorities such as Christians and Buddhists, along with civil servants, often fall victims to the attacked of radicalized Muslims. In recent years, several churches across the archipelago were attacked by ISIS supporters with suicide bombs. If Indonesia were to receive the returnees, many are worried that they will further spread their radical thoughts in a place which has already seen a rise of extremism.

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