Christian governor’s “blasphemy” – smokescreen for upsurge in Islamic radicalism in Indonesia

Indonesia

The governor of Jakarta, Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama, was, on Wednesday 16 November, formally named as the “blasphemy” suspect for an alleged anti-Islamic comment he made in a video posted online. Police are now preparing the docket: the court case will be open to the public and televised live. Following violent Muslim protests in the capital that rapidly spread to other parts of the country on 4 November, Islamic extremists are organising mass rallies on Fridays 25 November and 2 December to demand Ahok’s immediate resignation and detention.

President Joko Widodo, who has stated that the Indonesian government is determined to prevent the growth of Islamic radicalism
President Joko Widodo, who has stated that the Indonesian government is determined to prevent the growth of Islamic radicalism
CC BY-SA 4.0 by Yanuar

Amid rumours that hard-line Islamists are planning to storm the Indonesian parliament, President Joko Widodo said, on 22 November, that the Purnama furore is a smokescreen by Islamists to undermine his presidency. Placing the security forces on a state of high alert, the president went on: "I want to emphasise the spirit of pluralism ... the government is determined to prevent the growth of radicalism in this country."

Indonesia is balanced on a knife-edge as Islamic radicalism menaces. Governor Purnama is the Islamists’ pretext, the victim of the piece who could, ostensibly, pay for the role with his life.