Indonesia: Diversity under threat

Published on May 29, 2020 by

For a long time Indonesia was considered a model for a moderate form of Islam. There have been increasing indications that radical Muslims are gaining more and more influence in the most populous Islamic country in the world.

Far more Muslims live here than in the Middle East. Indonesia is made up of more than 17,000 islands. Its population numbers over 270 million people. Following the end of the brutal Suharto dictatorship in 1998, the country became a model for a democratic Islamic state. But in recent years, Islamist hate preachers have gained influence and steadily undermined religious tolerance. Indonesia’s Christian minority feels more and more marginalized.

The report begins in Aceh. In the northernmost province of the island of Sumatra, the Sharia, an interpretation of Islamic law that is particularly rigid, applies. Public floggings on large squares are part of everyday life here. The reasons for the humiliating punishments are manifold: sex before or outside marriage, alcohol consumption or homosexual acts.

A growing tendency towards a conservative and sometimes radical view of Islam is noticeable not only in Aceh, but also in other parts of Indonesia. This can be seen by the increasing number of women wearing headscarves in public places. The nikab, the face veil, is also becoming increasingly popular.

Yenny Wahid, a politician who is repeatedly referred to as the future president, has been quoted as saying “Unfortunately, Indonesia is not immune to the worldwide increase in intolerance.” The daughter of the first president after the dictatorship stands for cosmopolitanism and represents a liberal view of Islam. She constantly defends Indonesia’s secular constitution. She, too, has observed a slow Islamization of her homeland and the tendency of politicians to make more and more concessions to radical and populist groups.

The documentary “Indonesia – Diversity Under Threat” asks whether the country can withstand the pressure of fundamentalists?

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