PBNU rejects plan to repatriate ex-ISIS combatants

Jakarta (ANTARA) - Nadhlatul Ulama (PBNU), Indonesia's largest Muslim organization, turned down a plan to repatriate former ISIS combatants to the country, citing they had renounced their citizenship status and their return will endanger public safety.

"We refused the plan of repatriating the ex-ISIS combatants since when they had opted to leave the country, they had burnt their passports and denounced us as a thogut state (an Arabic word for infidel)," PBNU Chairman Said Aqil Siradj stated following a meeting with Foreign Affairs Minister of Indonesia Retno Marsudi in Jakarta, Tuesday.

At least 600 former ISIS combatants, allegedly Indonesian passport holders, currently live in shelters in Syria and Iraq. However, Indonesia's government is still in the process of verifying their nationalities.

"If we plan to repatriate 600 former ISIS combatants, it would endanger the comfort and safety of 260 million Indonesian nationals living here in the country," Siradj remarked.

Meanwhile, PBNU's Secretary General Helmy Faishal Zaini affirmed that his group's firm stance was in accordance with Law No.12 of 2006 on Indonesian Citizenship.

According to the law, any Indonesian national may lose his or her citizenship status on joining a foreign armed group without seeking the president's permission. "Indonesia's government has a strong legal standing to reject the repatriation plan," Zaini stated.

Despite the authority yet remaining undecided over the future of the 600 former ISIS combatants, President Joko Widodo and Coordinating Minister of Politics, Law, and Security Mahfud MD have personally rejected the repatriation plan.

However, Foreign Affairs Minister Marsudi affirmed that the authority will gather information of the former combatants for further verification.

Source: Antara News

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