The Indonesian Council of Ulama (MUI) is one of the most influential religious actors in Indonesia. In 2016 and 2017, for example, the organisation was instrumental in orchestrating the protests that led to the downfall of former Jakarta Governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama. Recently, the appointment of MUI head Ma’ruf Amin as President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo’s running mate in the 2019 presidential election indicated unprecedented access to formal power for the MUI.


How did this organisation, which has neither a mass basis nor a charismatic leader, establish itself so close to the centre of power in Indonesian politics? How does it interact with other prominent Islamic organisations such as Nahdlatul Ulama and Muhammadiyah? And what does its growing influence mean for the future of Indonesia’s increasingly fragile democracy?


In Talking Indonesia this week, Dr Dirk Tomsa discusses these and other issues with Dr Saskia Schäfer, a Senior Research Fellow at Humboldt University of Berlin.


In 2019, the Talking Indonesia podcast is co-hosted by Dr Dirk Tomsa from La Trobe University, Dr Dave McRae from the University of Melbourne’s Asia Institute, Dr Jemma Purdey from Deakin University and the Australia-Indonesia Centre, and Dr Charlotte Setijadi from Singapore Management University.


Look out for a new Talking Indonesia podcast every fortnight. Catch up on previous episodes here, subscribe via iTunes or listen via your favourite podcasting app.


Photo by Basri Marzuki for Antara.



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