Rejecting those calling for Indonesia to enact sharia law, Moeldoko says: ‘Our country is not an Islamic state’ 

Presidential Chief of Staff Moeldoko. Photo: 
@dr_moeldoko / Instagram
Presidential Chief of Staff Moeldoko. Photo: @dr_moeldoko / Instagram

Some people have the misconception that, because the vast majority of Indonesians are Muslim, that Islam is the state religion of Indonesia or that the Indonesian government prioritizes Islam over other religions. And while some would argue that the growth of political Islam is pushing the country in those directions, the idea of Indonesia prioritizing Islam is actually antithetical to the country’s founding ideology of Pancasila, which defines Indonesia as a democratic republic that prioritizes pluralism and respects the religious principles of all its recognized faiths equally.

That stance was reiterated forcefully yesterday by President Joko Widodo’s chief of staff, Moeldoko, in response to a highly-publicized meeting of Islamic scholars associated with the infamous Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) and other hardliner groups that recommended that Indonesia implement a form of Islamic sharia law that they claim would somehow still be in accordance with Pancasila.  

“Look, our country is not an Islamic state. Our country’s ideology is clear, other ideologies cannot be developed here. As long as it is in opposition to the ideology of Pancasila, it must be resisted,” Moeldoko told reporters at the State Palace yesterday as quoted by Detik.

Moeldoko was speaking in response to the recommendations delivered at the end of the fourth “Ijtimak Ulama” conference, a meeting of Islamic scholars organized by the National Movement to Guard the Ulama Fatwa (GNPF) — a hardliner-affiliated political group originally started to organize the massive protests against former Jakarta Governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama after the Indonesian Ulema Council passed a fatwa declaring that he had committed blasphemy against Islam.

Among the recommendations made by the conference’s participants was one urging all Muslim to work together to establish what they called NKRI Bersyariah, which could be translated as the Unitary Islamic State of the Republic of Indonesia. The group asserted that all Muslims were obligated to strive for the creation of an Islamic caliphate government.

That assertion is shared by FPI, which has also stated that the realization of NKRI Bersyariah is one of their organization’s objectives

That goal is the main reason that the infamous hardliner group’s future is in question. FPI is currently in legal limbo as the government has yet to decide whether it will extend the organization’s official permit (which is currently expired) and President Joko Widodo himself recently said in an interview with the Associated Press that he would consider banning the group, explaining, “If an organization endangers the nation in its ideology I won’t compromise.” 

There is a strong precedent for Jokowi banning FPI on the grounds that they oppose Pancasila by advocating for the creation of an Islamic caliphate government. That is exactly the same reason why the president’s administration outlawed hardline Islamist organization Hizbut Tahrir Indonesia (HTI) back in 2017. 

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