Jakarta court 8 May found Jakarta Governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama guilty of blasphemy, sentenced him to two years’ prison; follows his April loss in re-election bid. Observers see developments as sign of ascendance of conservative Muslim groups and mainstream politicians’ willingness to use religion for political ends. President Widodo known as “Jokowi” 8 May ordered dissolution of Hizbut Tahrir Indonesia (HTI), which advocates for reestablishment of Islamic caliphate and Sharia law; Political, Legal and Security Affairs Ministry said HTI’s activities contravene Indonesia’s constitution and Pancasila (pluralistic state ideology). Decision reportedly supported by mainstream Muslim organisations and some rights groups. HTI 23 May said group had employed legal expert and 1,000 advocates to counter move. Twin bomb attacks hit Jakarta bus terminal 24 May, killing three police officers and wounding at least ten; investigation into two suspected suicide bombers’ Islamic State (ISIS) links underway. Jokowi and Philippines President Duterte late April agreed to set up joint forum on counter-terrorism and expand intelligence sharing to curb movement of ISIS supporters in region. Jokowi late May attended Arab Islamic American Summit Saudi Arabia, where 55 leaders from Muslim-majority countries and U.S. President Trump agreed on new commitments to combat global terrorism.
A dispute over a flag in Aceh is testing the limits of autonomy, irritating Indonesia’s central government, heightening ethnic tensions, reviving a campaign for the division of the province and raising fears of violence as the 2014 national elections approach.
Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono needs to act more firmly against institutions and officials that defy national court rulings or his inaction risks prolonging local conflicts.
The only measure likely to halt violence in Indonesia’s Papua province in the short term is a major overhaul of security policy.
Almost ten years after the 2002 Bali bombing, Indonesian extremists are weak and divided but still finding partners for new operations.
Election monitors should begin deployment to Aceh long before the 9 April election to deter intimidation.
Despite years of investment in community policing, the Indonesian police remain deeply distrusted by the people they are supposed to serve.
Lecture by Sidney Jones at International Policy Studies program of Stanford University, 5 December 2012.
Originally published in The Interpreter
Originally published in The Jakarta Globe
Originally published in Myanmar Times