So Saturday saw the one year anniversary of the December 2 protest against former Jakarta Governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama take place, with an estimated 30,000 “212 alumni” (212 because of the date of the protest, alumni because in Indonesia you can be an “alumni” of a one-day protest) turning up at the grounds of the National Monument (Monas) to not only celebrate their day of political triumph but also make some big announcements about the direction they want to see the country take in the future.
The event was opened with a speech by Governor Anies Baswedan, the man who most directly benefited from the heavily-politicized blasphemy charges against Ahok, which eventually led the Chinese-Christian leader’s election loss and imprisonment. Before the anniversary event, Anies had, on multiple occasions, denied responsibility for the event being allowed to take place at Monas, but was forced to admit he had given it his go-ahead after a permission letter from the Jakarta Tourism Board with his signature was revealed to the press. He had also refused to comment on whether he had accepted the 212 alumni’s invitation to the rally making it a surprise to some that he not only showed up but gave the opening speech.
Anies has often sought to distance himself from the Islamic hardliners behind the anti-Ahok protests and so his speech did not touch on any overtly political issues. He began by noting that he had given Jakartans the ability to hold religious and cultural events at Monas. “Jakarta is ours. It doesn’t only belong to some of us. The city should be happy, calm and comfortable because of our faith and piety,” he said as quoted by Tribun.
Anies was referring to his overturning of a regulation from the previous administration banning religious and political (but not cultural) events from taking place at Monas, a regulation he repealed just in time for the 212 reunion to take place there.
Anies ended his speech by telling the crowd, “Let’s fight for unity”.
Not in attendance but also giving a speech at the event was Rizieq Shihab, the founder and leader of the infamous Islamic Defenders Front and a fugitive from Indonesian law currently hiding in Saudi Arabia. There was some talk of him returning to Indonesia for the 212 reunion but ultimately he decided the risk that police would arrest him on pornography charges was too great.
Instead, Rizieq had a recorded speech was that was played for the crowd in which he called on his followers to fight for a sharia-based government, which he called the Sharia Unitary State of the Republic Indonesia (NKRI).
Rizieq asserted that this sharia state he was calling for would not violate the state ideology of Pancasila, even though the founders of Indonesia explicitly choose Pancasila as an alternative to Islamist who wanted a government based on sharia law.
“The Sharia NKRI consists people who love their ulemas, instead of criminalizing and terrorizing them,” he said as quoted by Detik. Rizieq believes that the numerous pending criminal cases against him (he has also been named a suspect in cases of defamation and blasphemy) are the result of a conspiracy by the government of president Joko Widodo.
“Sharia NKRI is a country in which pribumi (a controversial term for “native Indonesians”) are the masters of their own lands. Sharia NKRI is anti-corruption, anti-gambling and drugs, anti-pornography, anti-prostitution, anti-LGBT, anti-defamation, anti-lies and anti-injustice,” said the man who has been reported numerous times for defamation, blasphemy and pornography.
Despite the fact that Rizieq remains a fugitive from Indonesian law, the “congress of 212 alumni” decided that he is the best person to spiritually lead the Muslim people of Indonesia
“The essence of the edict from all the congress participants reaffirms the commitment of all alumni 212 that Rizieq is the high priest of the people of Indonesia. Therefore, we plead with the government to stop criminalizing or manipulating his case,” said Presidium Alumni 212 chairman Slamet Maarif.
We should note that there is no such position as “high priest of Indonesia” for Muslims, it’s completely made up, and many major Muslim groups such as Muhammadiyah and Nahdlatul Ulama had a big problem with him being called by the phony title.
So after fugitive “high priest of Indonesia” openly called for a sharia state in which pribumi Muslims are the masters, will we finally see Governor Anies Baswedan denounce Rizieq and his ilk or will he just call on them to keep “fighting for unity”? You tell us.
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