Moderate Indonesians Alarmed by Rise of Hard-Line Islamist groups

Moderate Indonesians Alarmed by Rise of Hard-Line Islamist groups

JAKARTA, Indonesia — In ­mid-February, Muhammad al-Khaththath, leader of the hard-line Muslim Community Forum, held court on the top floor of a Jakarta fast-food joint. With key deputies gathered around, he explained the direction in which he hoped to push relatively secular, democratic Indonesia.  Sharia would become the law of the land, non-Muslims would lose their leadership posts and thieves, in accordance with Islamic law, would have their hands lopped off, he said. He also criticized Joko Widodo, Indonesia’s pluralist president.

Widodo “isn’t a liberal Muslim,” Khaththath said. “He’s a Muslim who doesn’t get it.”

Six weeks later, Khaththath was detained on treason charges, accused of plotting a coup. But in an April 19 runoff election for governor of Jakarta, his preferred candidate, fellow Muslim Anies Baswedan, defeated the Christian incumbent, Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, after a campaign laden with religious overtones. Since then, hard-line Islamist groups have gained stature; their ability to mobilize huge crowds was considered crucial to securing Baswedan’s lopsided victory. But a strong backlash also has emerged, led by moderate Muslims who worry that conservative Islamists are wrecking Indonesia’s tradition of religious toleranceFull Story

You can see in real time how powerful the trend is; once there is a trend change in play, nothing can stop it. This trend change could be powerful as it is exerting itself quite strongly rather quickly.  Indonesia is the most populous Muslim nation in the world, so it is befitting that these changes are taking place there.

Unfortunately, for Mr Khaththath, President Widodo does get it as do many Indonesians. The story that follows this story illustrates that the president is about to take a very strong stance against these radicals. There are many reports of moderates Muslims all over Indonesia going out of their way to stop the radicals from holding rallies in their cities. Radical Muslims are about to find out that they are on the wrong side of the trend; their only option now is to adapt or be crushed.

A trend in motion is unstoppable; resistance is futile. You play the trend, or it runs you over. The radicals will fight hard as this is the first time they are facing such opposition, and many think this resistance is just a passing fad. However, nothing could be further from the truth; the only thing that is going to pass away are the radicals.


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