Anies Baswedan becomes radicalized

Verdict against "Ahok": "Power of the Road" in Indonesia

The sentence against the outgoing governor of Jakarta, Basuki Tjahaja Purnama "Ahok", is an expression of the "power of the street" in Indonesia - this is how Alex Flor of the human rights organization "Watch Indonesia" assesses the verdict against the Chinese-born in an interview with Vatican Radio Christians, which was announced this Tuesday. The observer sees the ban on the strictly conservative Islamic group "Hizbut Tahrir", which has been agitating against Ahok for months, as a "showcase policy" of the Indonesian government: it only wants to smooth out the Ahok proponents and the waves of protests against the blasphemy process a little .

RV: With the two-year sentence against Ahok, the responsible court had gone beyond the two-year suspended sentence demanded by the public prosecutor's office. How do you explain that?

“In this case, it not only exceeded the required sentence, but also exceeded the points of the prosecution's indictment. In her last plea, she actually dropped the blasphemy charge because she considered it untenable on the basis of the evidence and only proposed a suspended sentence of two years for spreading religious hatred. The court has just ignored both, resumed the blasphemy accusation and sentenced the governor Ahok, who is still in office, to two years in prison. That is clearly the implementation of the power of the street, and the power of the street, in turn, is the implementation of the power of certain politicians. "

RV: Ahok's lawyers had announced their appeal - how do you rate “Watch Indonesia” the chances that imprisonment can still be averted?

“I would estimate that the chances are 50 to 50, since the points just explained speak for the defendant. If even the public prosecutor no longer insists on certain points, it is astonishing that a court without evidence and without charge goes further. I think these are strong points that speak for a vocation. But how free the judges in the appellate body will be and how it will be composed at all - the current one, for example, consisted of four Muslims and a Hindu - we do not yet know, that is speculation. "

RV: Indonesian and international human rights organizations condemn the blasphemy trial against Ahok as "political justice". Do you think this is what will catch on in Indonesia now?

“I'm afraid so. Anies Baswedan, the election winner, is not a strict Islamist, he is actually not a representative of these people who took to the streets here. He does not share their view of religion and the implementation of beliefs: But: He just tolerated that and let himself be carried by this wave, swam on it. That has to do with the fact that he is politically the candidate of Prabowo [Subianto]. He is a former general and former son-in-law of the dictator Suharto and is still closely associated with his family. Prabowo was responsible for incitement against the Chinese minority in 1998, where pogroms broke out, and he was responsible for the disappearances and killing of political activists in previous times. And he is now jointly responsible for inciting the Islamic masses against Christian or Chinese-born politicians who stand in his way. Anies Baswedan is his candidate and it is possible that Prabowo, who ran for the presidency two years ago, will possibly go into the next presidential election campaign together with Anies as runner-up and then have no bad chances.

RV: The government recently launched a ban on the strictly conservative Islamic group "Hizbut Tahrir". The aim was to fight against a split in Indonesian society, they said. "Hizbut Tahrir" has been inciting Ahok for months. How do you rate them Measure?

“We actually criticize this ban, because if organizations were banned because of their radicalism, then I would have thought of others who should have been banned before“ Hizbut Tahrir ”. “Hizbut Tahrir” is indeed extremely Islamist, they stand for a caliphate, do not recognize any state in the world, and if at all, they see a state only as a means of implementing Sharia, which they recognize as the highest religious commandment. Nonetheless, “Hizbut Tahrir” has never committed acts of violence. In other words, as radically as they express themselves verbally, they are so peaceful in the use of their means. There are completely different groups, I just mention the infamous Front Pembela Islam (FPI) in Indonesia, which is ready to use violence and which has very often distinguished itself through violent raids, fights and looting. So if there is a source of unrest and if people have reason to be afraid of applied Islamism, then the first thing that should have been done is to ban the FPI. But that in turn is too close to some powerful people, including Prabowo, to be expected to be banned in the near future. "

RV: So was the move just an ostensible move to appease the critics of the blasphemy trial who took to the streets for Ahok?

“This is a cosmetic measure, it is shop window politics, when people are now getting excited about increasing Islamism and its political, including social consequences, then do they show ...? Now: Look here, we are taking action against the Islamists with this ban. But that is just a measure for the notebooks or for the cameras, it is not a measure that is suitable for actively putting a stop to radical Islamism in Indonesia. "

RV: For a long time, Islam was considered moderate in Indonesia. What are the underlying causes of the recent radicalization?

“I think there are many causes that play together, one is an increase in Islamism, which we are likely to see worldwide in the last 20 or 30 years. In many regions, but also in Indonesia, this has something to do with a certain disappointment with the way the world is going, with globalization, with the winners and losers in political and economic development. And in Indonesia, in particular, it has something to do with the decline of the old system and the new order after the dictatorship. An immature society, an immature layer of politicians, could not counter this with a functioning democracy from one day to the next. In other words, a lot of values ​​fell by the wayside that were not followed by new values, and then a lot of people just turned back to their old religion or their ethnic origin, and we saw that at the beginning of the century in bloody conflicts in the Moluccas and experienced in extreme form in Sulawesi. But such tendencies now live on in a different form. And another influencing factor is certainly increasing financial and logistical support from certain countries in the Middle East. "


According to political observers in Indonesia, the blasphemy process was the main factor behind Ahok's defeat in the gubernatorial election in mid-April. With 42 percent of the vote, the Christian had to surrender to his Muslim challenger Anies Baswedan, for whom 58 percent of the voters voted in the stick election. Indonesian and international human rights organizations condemned the blasphemy process as "political justice".

At an election rally last autumn, Ahok criticized Rizieq Shihab, head of the Salafist Islamic Defense Front (FPI), for trying to prevent Muslims from choosing a Christian with a verse from the Koran. Shihab then filed a complaint against Ahok for blasphemy. However, following a complaint by Angelo Wako, President of the Catholic Student Union of Indonesia, there is also a police investigation against Shihab for blasphemy.

For many years, Indonesia was a country with a markedly moderate Islam. Observers rate the current development as a sign of radicalization in the world's most populous Muslim country.

(rv / kap 11.05.2017 pr)