Since the hardliner-led protest movement against former Jakarta Governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama helped ensure the Christian politician’s loss in the 2017 gubernatorial election, many political observers have been worried about the increasing polarization of the country’s politics and the use of religion as a tool to sway voters.
Amien Rais, the widely-revered chairman of the advisory board for the Islam-based National Mandate Party (PAN), took that polarization to a new extreme by declaring that a few of Indonesia’s political parties were aligned with Allah while the rest were “Satanic” during a controversial speech at a mosque on Friday.
“Now we have to mobilize all the strength of this nation to come together and strength this party, not just PAN, PKS, Gerindra, but the group that defends the religion of Allah, that is hizbullah. To fight against who? To fight against the forces of Satan,” Amien Rais said at the Baiturrahim Mosque in South Jakarta on Friday as quoted by CNN Indonesia.
Both PAN and PKS (another Islam-based political party) have tentatively suggested that they would join Gerindra, the opposition party headed by Prabowo Subianto, in a political coalition to challenge President Joko Widodo in the 2019 election (though that coalition is still far from consolidated).
“Those who are anti-God, they automatically join the big party, that is the party of Satan. Know that the party of demons must be inhabited by the destroyers, those that would destroy the world and the afterlife… But elsewhere, the believers join in the great party of hizbullah, the Party of God, the party that wins the struggle and the glory,” he added.
Amien Rais, who was formerly the head of Muhammadiyah, one of Indonesia’s largest and most influential Islamic organizations, is respected by many for his role in helping to topple the dictator Suharto and his New Order regime. But his declaration that any political parties not aligned with his coalition were automatically “Satanic” angered plenty and has led to his being reported to the police for violating the country’s blasphemy laws.
A political action group called Cyber Indonesia reported Amien Rais to authorities today, arguing that his statement was dangerous to the country.
“We see, as Indonesian citizens and Muslims, that this is an effort to divide us, to provoke people using religion, when we know we are a country united by [the state ideology of Pancasila] based on the 1945 Constitution,” Cyber Indonesia Chairman Aulia Fahmi on Sunday as quoted by Tribun.
Police have acknowledged receipt of the report and said they were in the early stages of investigating it.
Some of Amien Rais’ defenders, such as PAN chairman Zulkifli Hasan, have argued that his statement was based on Quranic interpretation and thus could not possibly be blasphemous.
The report filed against Amien Rais follows another high profile blasphemy case involving Sukmawati Soekarnoputri, daughter of Indonesia’s founding father Soekarno, who was recently reported to the police for reading a poem in which she compared elements of Islamic and Indonesian culture.