Asia-Pacific

Jul 14, 2017

Jokowi’s new decree is only partly about curbing Islamist groups

Yes, Joko Widodo's decree against hardline Islamic groups is about stamping out terror-linked organisations. But it's also about saving his own political arse.

Professor Damien Kingsbury

Crikey international affairs commentator

Indonesian President Joko Widodo’s decree on Wednesday banning organisations that do not support the state ideology of "Pancasila" (Five Principles) has sparked strong protest from both human rights and Islamist groups in Indonesia and sparked some alarm abroad. It’s the first time such a presidential decree has been issued since Indonesia’s hardline leader Suharto was forced to resign the presidency in 1998.

President Joko Widodo -- known as "Jokowi" -- issued the decree following Islamist rioting against the candidature of Jakarta governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama ("Ahok") for re-election late last year. The decree, which is a unilateral decision that can be applied to any organisation, was widely seen as targeting the fundamentalist religious organisations Hizb ut-Tahrir Indonesia (Indonesian Liberation Party, HTI) and the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI).

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3 comments

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3 thoughts on “Jokowi’s new decree is only partly about curbing Islamist groups

  1. Rais

    Professor Kingsbury and others like him keep saying that the Saudis are gaining a lot of influence in Indonesia by their expenditure on mosques and Islamic boarding schools. I would like to know where they are getting their information. A mosque is a building, the donor has little influence over the activities held inside it. A religious school has to have the support of the community and Saudi Wahhabism is not popular in Indonesian communities. As an Aussie Muslim who studied in Indonesia in the 1970s I do see a trend towards more religious observance among Indonesian Muslims. This has positive social effects in reducing the temptation towards corrupt behaviour in the public service and towards more charitable giving by the wealthy. Ahok got millions of Muslim votes and won the first round of the Jakarta election. He lost the second round but still had substantial public support. The prosecution for his ill-mannered and poorly judged remarks about a verse of the Quran should not have happened but it happened under existing law, not a new law.

  2. Barbara Haan

    As an Indonesian spokesman, who is setting up an Amnesty International branch in Jakarta commented this morning on Geraldine Doogue’s Radio RN program, Jokowi is making a terrible mistake in attempting to ban HTI and FPI in the name of Pancasila. In the long run, it will only lead to more and more groups being banned. That is not the reason Pancasila was created: in fact, it is in direct opposition for the five principles espoused therein.

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