CONNECTIVITY is the Solution for the Problem of Democracy in Indonesia, Plenary 2 Presented by Marsudi Syuhud

Global Peace Foundation
February 27, 2017

My homeland Indonesia has a population of almost 250 million people, and at least 300 different ethnic groups; with 737 living local languages and different religions, Muslim 87.21%,. Protestant 6.96%,, Roman Catholic 2.91%, Hindu 1.69%, Buddhist 0.72%, Khong Hucu 0.06%, and other local religions 0.5%. Indonesia, with the national motto of (Bhineka Tunggal Ika) “Unity in diversity”, is the largest Muslim country in the world, 12.9% from total world Muslims. (Statistic,2010)

Basuki Tjahaja Purnama popularly known by his Chinese nickname “Ahok”, became the Governor of Jakarta, when as Vice-Governor, he took over from Joko Widodo who was elected President of Indonesia in 2014 He was Jakarta’s first ethnic Chinese governor, and the first non-Muslim for 50 years. His ethnicity and Christian faith made him a double-minority in Muslim-majority Indonesia  He sought to be elected in his own right in the 2017 governor election. Some Islamic groups opposed his campaign, citing a passage of the Quran, notably verse 51 of Sura Al Maidah, which they interpret as a prohibition on Muslims from electing a non-Muslim leader.

On 27 September 2016, in a speech in front of citizens of Thousand Islands, he noted that some citizens would not vote for him because they are being “deceived using Verse 51 of Al Maidah and other things,”  referring to a verse that some groups have cited as grounds to oppose him. The provincial government of Jakarta uploaded the video recording to YouTube in a channel which often feature Basuki’s activities. Citizens and pundits criticised Basuki’s statement, considering it an insult on the Quran.

In the original video, Ahok said “ladies and gentlemen […] you have been deceived by the use of Al Maidah 51 [of the Quran]”,

The videos became viral and Basuki was criticised in social media such as Facebook and Twitter.  A petition criticising him gained tens of thousands of signatures.

Several organizations, including the Islamic Defenders Front (Indonesian acronym: FPI) and a local chapter of the Indonesian Ulama Council, reported Basuki to the police, accusing him of having violated Indonesia’s Law On Misuse and Insult of Religion.

November 2016 Jakarta protests (also called Protests defending the Quran ( or 4 November protests ) refer to a mass protest which took place on 4 November 2016 in Jakarta, Indonesia. It was aimed against the Governor of Jakarta Ahok. Indonesian police deployed 7,000 personnel in anticipation of the protests. Security was also increased in Jakarta’s Chinatown and in Christian churches.

The protests began around noon with a march from Istiqlal Mosque to the Presidential palace. The march was largely peaceful. Estimates for the attendance ranged from 50,000[3] to 200,000. Former Parliament Speaker Amien Rais, Vice-Speakers of Parliament Fahri Hamzah and Fadli Zon, as well as celebrities Ahmad Dhani and Rhoma Irama attended the protest. However, after nightfall, past the allotted time for the protest groups of angry demonstrators clashed with police.

Vice President, Jusuf Kalla, who met representatives of the protest, promised that the investigation would be completed within two weeks. At midnight 5 November, President Joko Widodo held a press conference on the protests, and reiterated his commitment to legal action against Ahok.

On November 30, counter protests were held by a number of Muslim officials and activists, alongside members of other religious communities. Indonesian National Armed Forces Commander Gatot Nurmantyo, Minister of Social Affairs Khofifah Indar ParawansaIndonesian National Police Chief Tito Karnavian and Islamic activist Yenny Wahid marched in support of interfaith unity as a counterbalance to the protests on the 4th.

On 4 December 2016, after another non-violent protest against Ahok was held in National Monument, a counter protest was held by Muslim officials and Government officials. The protest, dubbed as the “We Are One Parade” or “Parade Bhinekka Tunggal Ika (Unity in Diversity Parade)” was attended by 500,000 people. (Wikipedia)

On February 21, Protesters have been marching towards the House of Representatives (DPR) building in Senayan, Jakarta, for the so-called 212 rally. The rally will be staged to demand Home Affairs Minister to prevent Jakarta Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama (Ahok) from becoming a defendant in a blasphemy case. The initiators of the rally are the Islamic Ummah Forum (FUI) and student organizations of Jakarta State University (UNJ), Jakarta Muhammadiyah University (UMJ) and Prof. Hamka University. (TEMPO.COJakarta)

What Should NU do?

As the largest organization in Indonesia, Nahdlatul Ulama sees that Indonesia is a democratic state that gives rights of freedom to the people to express their opinions to the public, and it is guaranteed by the law, Nahdlatul Ulama support to everyone who wants to give their opinions as far as in accordance with the law, peacefully and without violence. To ensure that democracy in Indonesia is running well, keeping the situation under control and secure, The Central Board of Nahdlatul Ulama is doing as follows:

1. The high-level coordination with the Government and all stake holders, the President, Chief of Police and the Chief of Actions.

2.Providing opinions to the President Joko Widodo in order to fulfill the demands of the demonstrators that the case of Ahok can be processed legally.

3.Continuously asking the people through the mass media and meetings with the leaders of the action as well as leaders of Islamic organizations, to express their opinions in a good manner in accordance with the laws.

4. Requesting to the law enforcement officers to enforce the law for anyone who violates the law.

Thus, the situation of democracy in Indonesia can work well, the point is that the Board of Nahdlatul Ulama required to be able to coordinate and negotiate with all the parties concerned with good action. The basic capital to be able to do this effort is “Connectivity”. As Muhammad said “Whoever wants to be added his fortune and age then “Connectivity”. Wallohu A’lam Bishowab.

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