Ahok’s case being politicized by ‘groups who want to establish an Islamic state’: Senior Nahdlatul Ulama official

Many observers and government officials have made it clear that they think the blasphemy case against Jakarta Governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama has been trumped up by groups with motives fueled by politics rather than religion. National Police Chief Tito Karnavian warned earlier this week that certain groups may try to storm parliament during upcoming anti-Ahok rallies and President Joko Widodo recently promised “to prevent the growth of radicalism” in the country, a reference to mounting concerns this his political opponents of are using the religious furor over Ahok to topple his government.

Now a senior official from Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), Indonesia and the world’s largest independent Islamic organization, has stated that those behind the politicization of Ahok’s case want nothing less than to turn Indonesia into an Islamic state.

“[This case] is being used as an entryway for groups who want to establish an Islamic state. It is dangerous and we should be wary,” said Rumadi Ahmad, chairman of NU’s Institute for Human Resource Studies and Development (Lakpesdam) at a seminar entitled “Diversity in the Perspective of the Constitution of 1945” on Wednesday as quoted by BeritaSatu.

Rumadi said that Ahok’s alleged blasphemy should never have become such a big issue and that it was already being handled by the legal process. But he said groups who refused to accept that Indonesia was not an Islamic state were exploiting the blasphemy case to help realize their own goals. 

“In the case of Ahok, it is not the alleged blasphemy that is their concern, but the rise of a group that wants to establish an Islamic state,” Rumadi said.

The NU leader noted that Indonesia went through a similar struggle after independence in deciding whether to become an Islamic state or to create a state ideology that respected different faiths equally. Ultimately, they decided upon the latter in the form of Pancasila.

Rumadi said that these days, people tend to focus on their differences in order to pit different groups against each other. “In the old days, those differences became a ‘bridge’ that united us with each other. Today, those differences are being used as a ‘wall’ to separate us. This is very dangerous,” he said.

Although the NU leader did not specifically name any particular groups with these motives, it’s easy to imagine who he was referring to (‘cough’ FPI ‘cough’) but hopefully the increasingly blatant politicization of Ahok’s case will lead more people to see the wisdom in Rumadi’s words.

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