Episode 20: tolerance on Trial (Pluralism vs. the fpi)

In this episode, Swedian is back (finally) and itching to jump right back into conversation about Indonesia — which, at the moment , is all about rising religious intolerance. Sparked by the arrest and investigation of the Christian Chinese-Indonesian governor of Jakarta, Basuki Tjahaja Purnama — more commonly known as Ahok — on the grounds of blasphemy, we break down the recent December 2nd rally that had anywhere from 500,000 to 1,000,000 Muslims occupy the central part of Jakarta in the form of a mass Friday prayer. We discuss our differing views on President Jokowi’s decision to attend the prayer (as a devout Muslim) and address the crowd; in particular whether his presence was a smart political move to defuse the tension or a dangerous political compromise. 

We explain who Habib Rizieq (also known as Shihab Rizieq) — the leader of the hardline Islamic group Front Pembela Islam (FPI), or the Islamic Defenders Front — is, and what his rising popularity in the country means for the political climate in Indonesia. We also open up our conversation about the impact of FPI’s growth and expansion from a fringe vigilante organization into one that can actually mobilize a substantial mass of people in the form of a ‘mobocracy.’ We compare what’s going on in Indonesia with what’s going on in America and elsewhere, in that a charismatic leader (Rizieq in Indonesia; Trump in America) is using — under the banner of religious piety — populism and fear tactics to mislead the population, resulting in a cultural of intolerance and discrimination. 
We want to again reiterate our commitment to dialogue that is driven by common sense and logic, and not fueled by prejudice and fearmongering. Let us have constructive conversations instead of destructive demonizations of individuals and communities! #BhinnekaTunggalIka #UnityInDiversity #AliansiDamaiTanpaDiskriminasi
Thanks for listening! 
P.S. if you want to listen more about the impact of Ahok’s arrest, you can listen to our previous episode between Stephanie and her friend Tika here.  

For those interested in learning more about the topic, we’ve provided links to resources as well as other recommended readings.
Indonesians rally against Purnama over blasphemy claims — courtesy of Al Jazeera
Addressing Religious Intolerance in Indonesia — recognizing the threat to our nation’s plurality
Indonesia blasphemy case: Emotional scenes as Ahok trial begins — courtesy of BBC
Bandung Mayor Ridwan Kamil apologizes for Christmas service raid — courtesy of The Jakarta Post
Not a Mobocracy Republic — courtesy of Tempo
Exchanging Pluralism For An Islamist State — an analysis from 10 years ago that is still relevant today
For the Good of the People? — assessing the rise of religious intolerance and its impact on Indonesian pluralism