The True Position of Islam in Politics

The Jakarta Post, May 1, 2009

If quick count results by many survey institutes are accurate, General Election 2009 will place the Islamic political parties as the second or third political parties in this country.

Based on the result of quick count, only two Islamic political parties can place their representative in parliament: Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) and United Development Party (PPP). The two parties’ votes have reduced while support for nationalist-secularist parties is increasing.

This data shows us that the parties with nationalism-secularism ideology are still very dominant. The unthinkable is that this happened even though religious fundamentalism has increased in public sphere. At the same time, violent, radical actions have also become more familiar in many places.

The government and legislative councils have responded positively to the rise of fundamentalism, through law and bylaw like the anti-Pornography law. In several schools in the region, boys and girls are separated in classrooms, and given instructions to eat with their right hands, among other things.

More political elites now wear turbans. They also frequently schedule press conferences after Friday prayers. Many celebrities announce their wedding plans after returning from Mecca pilgrimage (hajj and umrah).

There is not problem in showing act of devotion or displaying religious symbols. The problem is that the public interest for religious practices is not only through personal rituals, but also thought the act of exclusion for the minority groups or others.

There is a lot of violence in the name of religion, like violence against Ahmadiyah. And the fanaticism not only comes from the ordinary people but also from the elites. The desire of political elite’s sectarian fanaticism is seen in their behavior to ignore the violence cases. There is not maximal response to the many violence cases. Only few political elites who tried to speak about the cases of violence against Ahmadiyah existence, Eden Community existence, Al-Qiyadah existence, etc. Ironically, the government made a response to this issues through the drawing up a regulation abandoning Ahmadiyah’s activities. The regulation has signed up by three ministries.

The others elites tried to exploit the violation to get public sympathy. Many leaders of Development and Unity Party (PPP) make political decision to break up Ahmadiyah community in Indonesia. The leader of Prosperous and Justice Party (PKS) repeatedly made statement that Ahmadiyah have been Muslim deviation. So, they must come back to pure Islam. Many PPP’s flag also hang up in the demonstration anti-Ahmadiyah just a moment before the Legislative Election 2009 done. The parties with the sectarian political agendas and try to exclude the minority groups like this should be prohibited in the democratic system. Unfortunately, until now there is not one political parties or member of parliament try to speak about the democratic violation have been done by PPP and PKS.

Yes, for a moment the President and the Vice President make a statement against what para-military troops of Islam Defender (LPI) did attacking a group who were celebrating the anniversary of Pancasila at the National Monument (Monas), June 1, 2008. But both of the national leaders never doing some serious decision to stop what Indonesia Ulema Council (MUI) who always make discriminative fatwas again and again. Some fatwas really challenge against our solidity in the United Nations of Indonesian Republic (NKRI). A lot of violence in the name of religion in Indonesia was done after MUI made fatwas like fatwas said that pluralism, liberalism, secularism, Ahmadiyah, Al-Qiyadah, Eden Community are deviation from Islamic faith. Most of the violence was done in the name of the fatwas. In many time, both national leaders was seen attended meeting held by MUI. Both Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and Jusuf Kalla explicitly decided the council that built by the authoritarian regime (New Order) as a moral keeper. The government also regularly gives big fund from people tax to the council. Unfortunately, the council is a closed organization and very difficult to make openly transparency.

The main question is why most political elites do not have positively response to the voters behaviors whose still support the nationalist-secular parties? As if the nationalist-secular do not have capability to propose their ideological ideas. The incapability shows us the real power in this political arena is not the nationalist-secularist, but the Islamic ones. PKS and PPP are not the majority of the political force in the term of representative members in legislative. But, their ideology political agendas seem like very dominant. We can see in case of Pornography Regulation that got majority supporters in legislative. Only Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDIP) and Prosperous and Peace Party (PDS) have different opinion about the regulation.

That the nationalist-secular parties do not pay attention to their voters actions shows us that the parties failed in self reformation project. This is not good, because if they usually fail concluding the behavioral voters it is same as open for neglecting the people aspirations. Become more conservative and fundamentalist, when the people more rational, is a part of violations.

The Writer is the program officer of Jaringan Islam Liberal (JIL)

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