Seize the moment, Indonesian clerics tell Islamic parties

Indonesia's leading Muslim groups call on faith-based parties to grab a golden opportunity to win the presidency.

By Aditya Surya for Khabar Southeast Asia in Jakarta

April 26, 2014
Reset Text smaller larger

Muslim clergy are urging Indonesia's five Islamic parties to make the most of their combined victory in the April 9th legislative elections and unite for the presidential race.

  • National Awakening Party (PKB) supporters rally in Jakarta on March 24th. The PKB is one of five faith-based parties running in Indonesia's two-staged 2014 elections. [Adek Berry/AFP]

    National Awakening Party (PKB) supporters rally in Jakarta on March 24th. The PKB is one of five faith-based parties running in Indonesia's two-staged 2014 elections. [Adek Berry/AFP]

Under the banner of the Islamic People's Forum (FUI) grouping the country's 67 most influential clerical organisations, Muslim leaders on Monday (April 21st) called on those parties to form a coalition in the run-up the July 9th election.

"This is the time for them if they want to win," Din Syamsuddin, chairman of both Muhammadiyah and the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI), which heads the FUI, told Khabar Southeast Asia on Monday.

"The past legislative election was evidence …. I hope they will not waste this opportunity."

Din was referring to how the slate's five faith-based parties – the National Awakening Party (PKB), National Mandate Party (PAN), United Development Party (PPP), Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) and Crescent Star Party (PBB) – together captured nearly 32% of ballots cast April 9th, according to a quick count by Indonesian Survey Circle (LSI).

No single party among the five garnered more than 10% of the vote, and all lagged behind the major secular Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), Golkar, Gerindra and ruling Democratic parties.

Islamic but diverse

Many Indonesian voters want to see a president from an Islamic group elected, according to Bahtiar Effendy, dean of the Department of Social and Political Sciences at the State Islamic University in Jakarta.

"We know from our history that it is difficult to unite Islamic-based parties. They are prone to conflict, segregation, and disunity. It is also hard to find a leader that could be accepted by all parties," he told Khabar.

"But in 2014, I think Islamic parties have this capacity. They just need to unite to decide who can lead the country."

On April 17th, prominent leaders from various parties – including the PKB, PPP and PKS – met in Cikini, Central Jakarta, to discuss the prospect of forming a strategic bloc.

Such a bloc might be called the Indonesia Raya Coalition and it would bring together Islamic and nationalist leaders, said former Muhammadiyah chairman Amien Rais, who attended the meeting.

"The Indonesia Raya coalition reflects the diversity of Indonesia, including religion, ethnicity, as well as a variety of cultures. They are still Islamic parties but it will be open for all of these diversities," he told Khabar.

Maeswara Palupi contributed to this article.

Reader Comments
CLICK HERE to Add a Comment
    • nursasi
      May 25, 2014 @ 03:05:16AM
    • Islam must rise up, the issue of corruption is a matter of the individual. We Muslims must lead the charge.
    • mualief
      May 10, 2014 @ 09:05:27AM
    • It would be good if Islamic parties unite but what is worrying is that should the officials become caught up in corruption, it would also tarnish Islam's dignity.
    • syaiful.
      May 8, 2014 @ 01:05:15AM
    • This is the smart moment to implement a decision to integrate Islamic parties because moving forward there will be no more tolerance by the Nahdliyin for fragmentation. And the people will see clearly those who are selfish and they will be finished.
    • RUHANA
      May 8, 2014 @ 12:05:36AM
    • By Allah, why is it so difficult for Muslims to unite? It is impossible not to unite. When we are facing a situation like this fellow Muslims must unite! Those who do not wish to unite, in all their arrogance, will be cursed by Allah, the angels and man.
    • samsi
      May 7, 2014 @ 08:05:44PM
    • I give my support but remember that the Republic of Indonesia is a country that consists of many ethnic groups.
    • rapi
      May 5, 2014 @ 08:05:28AM
    • The article is not succinct enough.
    • fatkhul Korib
      May 4, 2014 @ 08:05:59PM
    • Joining in.
    • faruq ali akbar (raihana)
      May 10, 2014 @ 12:05:42AM
    • I'm done with whatever this is.
    • rianto
      May 2, 2014 @ 10:05:22AM
    • Leaders have to be firm and not indecisive.
    • tukiman
      May 2, 2014 @ 07:05:17AM
    • Islamic groups/parties still put their egos first, however there's no guarantee that any one of them is right according to Allah. I am baffled as to why it has come to this, easy targets for the US to divide and conquer so that the world will follow them. Indonesia would prevail as the largest Muslim country, and the outside world will despair, should the Islamic parties unite. When will that be? We have not opened our eyes, these are crazy times.
    • m thoifur
      May 2, 2014 @ 02:05:52AM
    • How beautiful unity would be. Here's to hoping, Amin.

Add A Comment (Comments Policy)* denotes required field



The most important issue in Indonesia's presidential election is:

Photo Essay

Mariyah Nibosu, whose husband was shot dead in 2009 by unknown gunmen, stands outside her home in September 2013 in the state-run 'widows' village' of Rotan Batu, 20km from Narathiwat. "Women suffer a lot here," she said. "But we are strong. We have to feed our children by ourselves. We have to survive." [Christophe Archambault/AFP]

As Thailand's Deep South insurgency drags on, families suffer, persevere