Category: Religion

On 16 November, police declared Jakarta Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, or Ahok, a suspect for blasphemy over a speech he made in which he quoted a verse from the Qur’an. Why have Ahok’s comments provoked such an intense reaction in Indonesia, and what can we learn from this case about the position of non-Muslims and ethnic Chinese Indonesians in Indonesian democracy? Dr Dave McRae speaks to Dr Nadirsyah Hosen about the case.

Jakarta Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, or Ahok, faces accusations of blasphemy over a speech in which he quoted a verse from the Qur’an. The hard-line Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) has said it will continue to protest until Ahok is taken to court. Lies Marcoes examines the verse in detail, and writes that views on whether Ahok was at fault are largely dependent on how the Qur’an is interpreted.

Since the advent of democracy, Islam has become increasingly visible in Indonesian society and politics. But the electoral success of Islamic parties remains limited. How does this compare with the experiences of other Muslim-majority countries? Will Islamic parties ever be able to dominate Indonesian politics? Dr Ken Setiawan chats to Professor Vedi Hadiz about these issues and more in the latest Talking Indonesia podcast.

Images of a woman pleading with officials as they confiscated food she was selling went viral over the weekend. Netizens were furious and donated almost $27,000 in support of the woman. Ihsan Ali-Fauzi writes that the case is a chance for the central government to send a strong message to local governments that it is serious, and able, to act against intolerance and discrimination.

Although freedom of religion and freedom of expression are guaranteed in the Indonesian Constitution, these guarantees have not been sufficient to protect non-religious expression in the public sphere. Ismail Hasani looks back at the case of Alexander An, jailed for writing “God does not exist” in a Facebook post.

The Indonesian Council of Ulama (MUI) has made headlines recently over its controversial fatwa against the Gafatar movement and the LGBT community. Tim Mann takes a look at the council, and the extent to which its fatwa are able to influence policy and legal decisions in Indonesia.

Indonesians were stunned earlier this month after a photo emerged of Bogor Mayor Bima Arya opening the new office of Hizbut Tahrir Indonesia (HTI), an organisation that openly rejects democracy and the Indonesian state. Burhanuddin Muhtadi looks at the movement and its strategy to revive a transnational Islamic caliphate.

Indonesia’s largest Islamic organisation, Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), is promoting Islam Nusantara — its vision of an inclusive and peaceful Islam — as a counterweight to violent extremism. What exactly is meant by the concept? And what can Islam Nusantara offer the broader Muslim world? Dr Nadirsyah Hosen examines the movement.

Following the recent attack on the Gafatar community, and efforts to evict Ahmadiyah followers from Bangka Island, religious intolerance is once again in the spotlight. What are the drivers of intolerance, and what forms does it take? Is President Joko Widodo doing any better than his predecessor at managing the issue? Dr Dave McRae explores these questions with Ihsan Ali-Fauzi in the latest Talking Indonesia podcast.

Al Makin writes that as long as Indonesians remain a pious people oriented toward religion, new religious movements like Gafatar will continue to emerge. Both the government and Indonesian citizens need to accept this fact. Photo by Jessica Helena Wuysang for Antara.

What makes West Java so prone to religious intolerance and violence? And which regulations, if any, need to be reformed to reduce conflict? Indonesia at Melbourne explored these issues with Dr Melissa Crouch, whose book examines religious conflict and the use of the courts by intolerant groups in West Java.

Many analyses of women’s involvement in fundamentalist groups depict these women as naive victims of more powerful or charismatic men. But as Lies Marcoes explains, young women have distinct political and ideological motives for participating in violent extremist movements. Photo by Armin Hari.