The rally was organized by hardline Muslim groups to mark the 2nd anniversary of demonstrations that forced Jakarta’s Christian ex-governor to step down. An Islamist-linked politician is now seeking to become president.
Thousands of people marched in Indonesia’s capital Jakarta on Sunday as the country’s Islamists seek to topple President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) in next year’s presidential election.
The rally also marked two years since the toppling of Jakarta’s Christian ex-governor, Basuki Tjahaja Purnama. The 2016 Islamist demonstrations against Purnama’s alleged blasphemy forced him to resign from his post. The former governor was later jailed for two years.
Sunday’s demonstration was attended by former general and ultranationalist politician Parabowo Subianto, who has strong links to Islamists and is seeking to win the April 2019 poll. Subianto was narrowly defeated by the incumbent president in the 2014 vote.
At least 100,000 Indonesians — many of whom dressed in white and carried Islamic flags — participated in the Sunday rally.
“We are proud because Islam in Indonesia is Islam that unifies and is united and will maintain peace for everyone,” presidential hopeful Subianto told the crowd.
Experts say conservative Muslim groups in Indonesia have been rapidly gaining influence in the country.
Political figures in the country, where Muslims account for around 85 percent of the over 260-million strong populace, are also becoming increasingly willing to make common cause with conservative and even extremist Muslim organizations in pursuit of their electoral goals.
“Religion is being used by Indonesian politicians as a means of winning elections. This is even more dangerous than money-driven politics,” Ray Rangkuti, an Indonesian political analyst, told DW.
This view is shared by Zaky Yamani, an Indonesian journalist. “Politicians here still use religion to win public support. The citizens also support the use of religious issues in politics. This situation is bad for the climate of pluralism in Indonesia,” he told DW.