Indonesia’s presidential hopefuls will need to brandish their Islamic credentials

Author: Alexander R Arifianto, RSIS

The 2019 presidential election in Indonesia will be different from previous elections. All potential candidates will have to show that they possess strong Islamic credentials if they hope to go far.

Members of Islamist groups wave flags during a rally at The National Monument compound as they celebrate the one-year anniversary of a protest that brought down former ethnic Chinese Jakarta governor Basuki Tjahja Purnama in Jakarta, Indonesia, 2 December 2017 (Photo: Reuters/Beawiharta).

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The pressure to accommodate Islamic groups in Indonesian politics has become more pronounced since the 2016–17 Jakarta gubernatorial election. Rallies in the name of ‘defending Islam’ that were organised by the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) and other conservative Islamic groups led to the landslide defeat of former Jakarta governor Basuki ‘Ahok’ Tjahaja Purnama, who was accused of blaspheming against Islam.

Many of the participants in these rallies have now formed a number of ‘212 Alumni’ groups — named after the largest rally held on 2 December 2016. A member of the group’s advisory board Kapitra Ampera stated that the movement was founded ‘to elect observant Muslims to all elected office — as local …continue reading