Islamic hardliners to hold ‘Defend Islam Action 64’ protest against Sukmawati Soekarnoputri’s poem on Friday

Sukmawati Soekarnoputri reporting firebrand cleric Rizieq Shihab to the police in October 2016.
Sukmawati Soekarnoputri reporting firebrand cleric Rizieq Shihab to the police in October 2016.

Persaudaraan Alumni 212 (PA 212), an umbrella group of Indonesian Islamic hardline organizations that was instrumental in staging mass protests against Ahok and influencing his eventual blasphemy conviction, has set its sights on Sukmawati Soekarnoputri and plans on staging a mass protest against her for her allegedly blasphemous poem as well.

Just as the group’s name contains the date of the largest protest against Ahok (December 12, 2016), the mass protest against Sukmawati, which is planned for Friday, will be called Aksi Bela Islam 64 (“Defend Islam Action 64”) to denote the date, as has become the norm for every mass protest the group has staged.

Plans for ‘Defend Islam Action 64’ were confirmed by PA 212 spokesperson and senior Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) member Novel Bamukmin (i.e. he of “Fitsa Hats” fame).

“On Friday, after Friday prayers, there will be Defend Islam Action 64, there will be many [protesters],” Novel said yesterday, as quoted by Merdeka.

Novel did not say how many protesters will be expected on Friday, but the group’s reported number of demonstrators has always been a point of contention in the past. For example, PA 212 claimed that up to 7 million flooded Central Jakarta for the protest against Ahok in 2016 while credible media sources put that number closer to 200,000.

Novel also remarked that Sukmawati’s poem is more blasphemous than Ahok’s speech.

“Ahok [said the speech] spontaneously, unintentionally in front of a specific audience and not for the general public. This [Sukmawati’s poem] was prepared in advance,” he said.

PA 212 is not the only group seeking legal action against Sukmawati after being offended by the poem. Yesterday, a prominent politician and lawyer reported her to the Jakarta Metro Police for blasphemy, the maximum punishment for which is five years’ imprisonment.

During last week’s Indonesia Fashion Week 2018 in Jakarta, Sukmawati read out her poem, titled Ibu Indonesia (Mother Indonesia), which celebrates Indonesian fashion and tradition, comparing them to Middle Eastern and Islamic traditions many have adopted in the country. Some of the contentious lines in her poem include, as translated to English:

I don’t know Islamic sharia
But I know Mother Indonesia’s konde saree is very beautiful
Prettier than your face veil

I don’t know Islamic sharia
But I know Mother Indonesia’s ballad, it’s so very elegant
More soothing than your azan (Islamic call to prayer)

Responding to accusations of blasphemy, Sukmawati defended herself and her poem by saying that it’s a form of artistic expression reflecting the truths from the perspective of many women across the archipelago.

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