Blasphemy charges against Ahok (BasukiTjahajaPurnama), as he contested Jakarta’s gubernatorial election, turned into a test of how successful Islamic hardliners can be in exercising influence on the moderate Muslim majority. Ahok was the first Chinese Christian governor of Jakarta in the contemporary times enjoying immense popularity. His political rivals, who are a group of extreme Muslims, exploited religious sentiment to win the election. This governor election, then, seemingly became a battle between the moderate majority, who mostly support Ahok, and the hardliners, who are clearly outnumbered.
This case points to the emergence of an iceberg appearing from the Islamic movement, some seventy years after the political independence of Indonesia. Though it does not indicate whether Indonesia will in the near future become an Islamic state, it is clear that the pendulum is swinging from the middle to the right. Responding to this recent development, minorities, especially Christians including Catholics, should redefine their place in Indonesia.
BruinessenMartin van. “What happened to the smiling face of Indonesian Islam? Muslim intellectualism and the conservative turn in Post-Suharto Indonesia.” In the rsis Working Paper No. 222 (Singapore: S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies2011).