A small percentage of Indonesian Muslims have carried out violence in the name of Islam and a large percentage say they are prepared to do so.
The Center for Islamic and Social Studies (PPIM), Pusat Pengajian Islam dan Masyarakat, carried out a survey on religion and violence in which was given the following results:
The survey was conducted in March 2006 and was done with 1,200 Muslims in 30 of the country's 33 provinces. The results were given during a seminar called "Agama, Budaya Kekerasan dan Demokrasi", Religion, Culture of Violence, and Democracy at the State Islamic University in Jakarta.
Referring to the 0.1% figure PPIM researcher Jajat Burhanudin said:
The percentage looks very small but it is very high in its real figure when you note that 85 percent, or 200 million, of the country's 230 million population are Muslims.
This condition has helped terrorists easily recruit new comrades and makes the country a fertile ground for sectarian radicalism.
Interestingly, for its honesty and openness, he said that a simultaneous study on the reasons for the results found that Islamic teachings themselves, and what he called "Islamism", made the most significant contributions to violent behaviour, both in the domestic and public spheres.
The more Muslims give their support for certain Islamic teachings legitimizing the use of violence, the more violence will happen.
He noted that between 30 and 58% of respondents approved of amputation of the left hand for thieves and the stoning to death of rapists, as well as other tenets of sharia law, and opposed the election of non-Muslims for president. (see also Support for Sharia & Islamic Radicalism.)
Simplistic understanding of Islamic teachings and the introduction of so-called "yellow books", detailing Islamic law and regulations in Islamic boarding schools, contributed to the emergence of hardline groups, the issuance of sharia by-laws and created hostility towards non-Muslims, he said.
To end this, the government must take strategic steps to campaign for pluralism among the people and enforce the law to ensure legal certainty.
Others however were not so glum in their reading of the results, in terms of Islam's share of the blame. Azyumardi Azra said the roots of the violence could not be blamed entirely on Islam, but also on the vengeful nature of some native cultures and common social and political problems, such as poverty, unemployment and political instability.
The country's self-image of kindness, tolerance and hospitality must be questioned because local cultures are very close to violence.
However he did seem to admit that Islamic holy texts such as the Quran did sometimes advocate violence. Azyumardi, who is the rector of Syarif Hidayatullah State Islamic University in Ciputat, Tangerang, suggested the need for the reinterpretation of those Islamic teachings that could be construed as promoting violence and the development of democracy through a campaign for pluralism and tolerance.
Besides, the country is in dire need of a strong government to create political stability and good governance and ensure the rule of law, while the development of democracy should not end with the general elections and local elections.
He warned that religious radicalism would become a dangerous threat unless good governance was in existence, laws were enforced and old religious doctrines were reformulated.