Indonesia president: ISIS is ‘embarrassing’

Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (L), leader of the world’s largest Muslim-majority country called upon international leaders to tackle extremism.

Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (L), leader of the world’s largest Muslim-majority country called upon international leaders to tackle extremism.

The president of Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim-majority country, deemed the actions of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria group “embarrassing” to the religion and called upon Muslim leaders to unite in tackling extremism, Agence France-Presse reported.

Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said the scale of the killing instigated by the extremists in their offensive in large areas 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, a day after ISIS released a video showing a masked militant beheading U.S. reporter James Foley, provoking worldwide revulsion.

“We do not tolerate it, we forbid ISIS in Indonesia,” he added.

“Indonesia is not an Islamic state. We respect all religions.”

Yudhoyono also urged international leaders to work together to combat radicalization.

“This is a new wake-up call to international leaders all over the world, including Islamic leaders,” he said, adding that the actions of ISIS were not only “embarrassing” to Islam but also “humiliating”, the newspaper 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,” Yudhoyono said.

Indonesia is home to the world’s biggest Muslim population of about 225 million and has long struggled with terrorism. But a successful clampdown in recent years has seen the end of major deadly attacks.

‘ISIS worse than Saddam’

In a related story, a Kurdish commander said ISIS militants targeting minorities are “worse than Saddam,” while he stood near a sand barrier at a front line in north Iraq, with the ISIS black flag fluttering in the distance.

ISIS is “worse than Saddam. They use terror and chaos to force the population to flee. Then they take over,” said Major General Abdulrahman Kawiri, an officer in the Kurdish Peshmerga forces, puffing on a cigarette as the sun slips below the horizon.

These statements hold special significance are they are made by a member of Iraq’s Kurdish community, which was targeted in a genocidal campaign in the 1980s by executed dictator Saddam Hussein’s regime that killed tens of thousands of people.

Kawiri’s deputy, Major General Sardar Kamal, says the Kurds’ experience under Saddam is part of the reason they are so keen to join the fight against ISIS.

“We don’t want history to repeat itself,” says Kamal, as his men pitch tents and get ready to spend the night guarding their freshly recaptured ground, just a few dozen meters from the nearest ISIS position.

In the distance, columns of smoke rise from the sites of American air strikes carried out in support of the Kurdish and Iraqi security forces fighting ISIS.

His forces also have strong Kurdish nationalist sentiment on their side.

“We are fighting a war in self-defense, and we believe in our cause,” he says.

Kamal says he has been fighting with the Peshmerga since he was 16 years old.

The Peshmerga’s long experience with guerrilla war against Saddam’s regime has helped the Kurds turn the tide after losing large swathes of territory to the IS in recent weeks, he says.

The Peshmerga’s worst defeat was the ISIS capture of the Mosul Dam, the country’s largest, nearly a fortnight ago, but Peshmerga and Iraqi security forces retook it on Sunday.

 
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