Radio Hang in Batam denies airing extremist sermons as claimed by MHA

BATAM – Indonesian Batam radio station, Radio Hang, denies airing extremist sermons after Singapore news linked it to the radicalisation of two men arrested in Singapore, who allegedly planned to join the Islamic State group.

On Saturday (20 August) and Monday (22 August) the Batam Pos, a local online newspaper reported the denial of Radio Hang station manager Abu Yusuf to the allegation from the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA).

Singapore announced last week that Rosli bin Hamzah, 50, and Mohamed Omar bin Mahadi, 33, and two other suspects have been dealt with under the Internal Security Act (ISA) for intending to travel to Syria to fight for the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (Isis, also known as IS)

Today reported on Friday (19 August) that according to the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), Rosli, one of the arrests, since several years ago started listening to Radio Hang, based on the Indonesian island of Batam.

The station “…sometimes features speakers who preach extreme religious views…”, the ministry said.

The MHA said Rosli, who worked as a car washer, became convinced IS militants were fighting for Islam while Omar, a waste truck driver, had made preparations with his wife and children to travel to Syria.

They are being held under the Internal Security Act, which allows for detention without trial.

Abu Yusuf told Batam Pos that they firmly rejected MHA’s statement that they are responsible for those two suspects’ belief and action.

“Hang Radio FM radio propaganda is working with ethics and on the contrary, we precisely oppose the radical violence and radicalism,” said Abu Yusuf.

Abu Yusuf stated that Hang FM Radio would not spread radicalism that led to violence preaching, and it is impossible for it to do so.

“We are under the supervision of the Indonesian Broadcasting Commission, so such thing is not possible,” he said.

Abu Yusuf said that the station will submit an objection via the Singapore Consulate in Batam.

“It can not be allowed because it was slander, especially the news is not confirmed before while the photo of our radio office is on the news,” said Abu Yusuf.

Vice Chairman of the Regional Indonesian Broadcasting Commission of Riau Islands, Suyono said during its review of the station, the broadcasts by Hang FM Radio reject radicalism and terrorism.

“What we heard a few weeks ago, for example, the speech is very much anti-radicalism, long before the news from Mediacorp,” said the man who is also a member of the Supervisory Contents of Broadcasting Materials.

And the head of Indonesia’s Religious Affairs Ministry in Batam, Mr Zulkifli Aka, told The Straits Times in an interview Monday, “The government has been monitoring the station closely since then, and we are gathering evidence to shut it down. We can’t close it for being against the mainstream as that’s not a crime.”

In response to TODAY’s queries, an MHA spokesperson said that local authorities are “looking into all options” on whether or not to block Radio Hang.