Accused of Islamophobia, PSI argues rejecting religion-based laws doesn’t equal rejecting religion

PSI founder Grace Natalie pictured with other PSI officials. Photo: @psi_id / Instagram
PSI founder Grace Natalie pictured with other PSI officials. Photo: @psi_id / Instagram

The Indonesian Solidarity Party (PSI) is one of the country’s youngest and certainly its most progressive political party. Although some have questioned their effectiveness and motives, PSI officials are among the very few Indonesian politicians to have spoken out against the country’s increasing number of religion-based laws, a stance party founder Grace Natalie reiterated at an event marking the party’s fourth anniversary on Sunday.

“PSI will stop the creation of injustice, discrimination and all acts of intolerance in this country. PSI will never support regulations based on the Gospel or sharia,” Grace said during her speech at the anniversary event.

That has, of course, earned PSI the ire of other Indonesian political parties, most of which lie far on the opposite side of the progressive-conservative scale. Recently, several politicians accused the young political party of rejecting religion and even “Islamophobia” for their views, a very serious charge in Muslim-majority Indonesia.

A spokesperson for the Islam-based Prosperous Justice Party (PKS), Suhud Aliyudin, said that PSI’s stance was tantamount to rejecting religion itself, which went against Indonesia’s founding principles of Pancasila. He then went further, comparing PSI to the long defunct yet still somehow villainized Indonesian Communist Party (PKI).

“Only the PKI reject religion, the spirit of rejecting religion goes against Pancasila,” Suhud said as quoted by Radar Bogor.

The outspoken deputy secretary-general of the Democratic Party, Andi Arief, took to Twitter to compare PSI to another now defunct socialist party (PRD), saying that “PSI seems to have been set up to create space for Islamophobia, they are also not serious about serving in Parliament. PRD was able to open up democracy, PSI has enlarged tensions.”

PSI spokesperson Dini Shanti Purwono shot back at those who equated rejecting religion-based laws with rejecting religion, saying that they were the ones who were actually going against the spirit of Pancasila.

First, she noted that while Pancasila recognizes the one and only God, it was specifically designed not support any one particular religion over another. Dini further argued that the nation’s founders considered religion-based laws to be contrary to their idea of the Unitary State of the Republic of Indonesia.

“Religion-based regulation are not in accordance with the spirit of unity, they make the community divided and they have the potential to threaten national unity,” Dini told CNN Indonesia.

Dini also noted that PSI respected all religious beliefs and that the party’s members came from many different backgrounds including Muslim organizations such as Nahdlatul Ulama and Muhammadiyah.

Whatever you think of PSI, you have to respect them for being one of the only parties brave enough to speak out on this issue. If the national creed of Bhinneka Tunggal Ika (“Unity in Diversity”) is to remain true, then more people will need to find the courage to speak out as well.

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