Some Indonesians Fear Country’s Religious Intolerance Is Growing


Jakarta, Indonesia, has a second-largest race of any civil area in a universe right after Tokyo. This year, usually after a U.S. inaugurated a new president, Jakarta chose a new governor. The debate played on temperament politics, and it finished with a obligatory in prison. The story has certain echoes of American politics.

TOM PEPINSKY: I’d like to consider of Indonesia as a box from that we competence learn both a certain aspects of democracy and a hurdles that democratization places on different societies.

SHAPIRO: Tom Pepinsky is an Indonesia consultant who teaches supervision during Cornell University, and he’s going to assistance us tell this story today.

PEPINSKY: Indonesia’s inhabitant pointer is bhinneka tunggal ika, that means roughly togetherness in diversity, that sounds a lot like e pluribus unum in a United States.

SHAPIRO: Which means out of many one. we wanted to know what happened in Jakarta’s choosing and what lessons it competence have for a U.S., so we went to Jakarta. Before we get there, though, a discerning authority on how a Jakarta governor’s debate went down. Rewind story a year and a personality of one of a biggest cities in a world, a reigning incumbent, was a man everybody calls Ahok. He spoke with NPR’s Anthony Kuhn final year.


BASUKI TJAHAJA PURNAMA: History chose me for this position. You couldn’t buy it. You couldn’t ask. You couldn’t choose. It is an honor.

SHAPIRO: Ahok’s full name is Basuki Tjahaja Purnama.

PEPINSKY: The thing to know about Basuki Tjahaja Purnama is that he is both racial Chinese by stock and he’s Christian. So he is a double minority in a Indonesian context. He is a minority religiously and ethnically.

SHAPIRO: More than 80 percent of people in Jakarta are Muslim. So if we wanted to pull a together with a U.S., we could contend it’s a bit like a black boss ruling a nation that is infancy white. And Pepinsky says like President Obama, Ahok was a renouned leader.

PEPINSKY: He was noticed by many Jakarta citizens, a infancy of them for sure, as being a unequivocally effective and able governor.

SHAPIRO: He done swell on Jakarta’s terrible trade and flooding problems. Ahok’s challenger in a debate was a man named Anies Baswedan. While Ahok was Christian, Anies was Muslim. And he played that adult in a campaign.

PEPINSKY: Anies invoked unequivocally categorically a significance of Islam.

SHAPIRO: You’re observant he ran an identity-based campaign. He was like, I’m Muslim. That guy’s Christian. That man is Chinese. I’m a some-more Indonesian one. Vote for me.

PEPINSKY: The import being that a Chinese Indonesian is somehow not totally Indonesian in a same way. And he won.

SHAPIRO: Nobody claimed that Ahok was innate in Kenya, though there are certain similarities. And it worked. Ahok mislaid a choosing for a administrator of Jakarta. But that’s not a finish of a story. During a campaign, Ahok got in difficulty for this moment.


PURNAMA: (Foreign denunciation spoken).

SHAPIRO: He said, people should not be fooled by politicians who contend Muslims can usually opinion for Muslim candidates. Hard-line Muslim groups indicted Ahok of blasphemy, of scornful Islam. And he was put on hearing during a campaign.

PEPINSKY: When Christians are brought adult on charges of blasphemy, they are routinely convicted. And this is a box with him.

SHAPIRO: When we suppose a debate rallies, we design crowds of Indonesians chanting, close him up, close him up, close him up.

PEPINSKY: There was some of that. There is a famous video that circulated of children marching down a travel and saying, kill Ahok.


UNIDENTIFIED CROWD: (Chanting in unfamiliar language).

SHAPIRO: To Indonesians of Chinese descent, This stage felt personal. In their lifetime minorities have been targeted, bullied and killed.

I went to a area of Jakarta called Glodok, where Indonesians of Chinese skirmish have lived for centuries. In slight marketplace streets people sell dusty herbs, sea cucumbers and songbirds in cages. At a Buddhist church in Glodok, a 20-year-old lady named Wen Wen she told me she was innate and lifted in Indonesia, and still she feels like an outsider.

WEN WEN: When we travel in a road, if you’re Chinese it’s like they will glance during you.

SHAPIRO: Really?

WEN WEN: Yeah. So my – we never travel alone in Indonesia.

SHAPIRO: And when Ahok was on hearing and went to prison…

WEN WEN: we said, see; in Indonesia it’s like people usually – people is so racist.

SHAPIRO: So it reliable your misfortune fears.

WEN WEN: Yeah, of course.

SHAPIRO: So Ahok, a former administrator of Jakarta, went to jail for a two-year sentence. And afterwards a boss went after one of a tough Muslim groups that pushed for a heresy trial. The organisation is called Hizb ut-Tahrir. The supervision announced that a organisation was anti-Pancasila. That’s Indonesia’s first element of coexistence.


UNIDENTIFIED MAN: (Foreign denunciation spoken).

SHAPIRO: My subsequent stop in Jakarta was a group’s headquarters.

On a masquerade where there used to be a large Hizb ut-Tahrir pointer and trademark it’s now lonesome in black.

They aren’t unequivocally ostensible to have offices anymore, so they try to keep things low-key. Inside we met Ismail Yusanto, a group’s spokesman.

Do we consider that a Hizb ut-Tahrir was criminialized since a supervision was indignant about what happened to Ahok?

ISMAIL YUSANTO: Yeah (laughter). Well, we called to a people. We called people not to elect Ahok since Ahok is not Muslim.

SHAPIRO: To contend don’t opinion for him is one step.

YUSANTO: Yes. Yeah.

SHAPIRO: To contend he should be in jail is a subsequent step.

YUSANTO: To be in prison. And a subsequent step is since Ahok insult Islam.

SHAPIRO: Some people remonstrate that this should be a nation where people can pronounce freely. You should go to jail for actions, though not for words.

YUSANTO: Word is partial of action.

SHAPIRO: Word is partial of action, he says. Now Ahok is in prison. Hizb ut-Tahrir is banned. Jakarta has a new governor. And around a universe analysts are debating, was this whole event a blip, a hiccup in a world’s third-largest democracy? Or has it undermined Indonesian first beliefs of farrago and coexistence? People remonstrate on a answer to that question, though there is something that everybody agrees on. This quarrel was over one city, Jakarta. In 2019, a whole nation will reason elections for president, and that will be an even bigger exam of this democracy’s strength.

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