Asia Program

Piety and Pragmatism: Trends in Indonesian Islamic Politics

R. William Liddle, Mohamad Ihsan Alief, Hidayat Nurwahid, and Zulkieflimansyah

This Special Report explores the diversity in Indonesian politics. R. William Liddle gives an overview of parties, leaders, and ideologies, and suggests that Islam-based parties may be poised to make gains in the 2004 parliamentary elections. Survey data show increasing support for Islamic law—although average Indonesians have a looser definition of such law than do religious leaders and scholars. Mohamad Ihsan Alief, a founding member of the Liberal Islam Network, expresses concern about political disaffection in Indonesia, which he sees as more dangerous than religious extremism. He urges Westerners not to exaggerate the dangers of Islamic radicalism, since doing so could polarize society and hinder democracy building. Hidayat Nurwahid and Zulkieflimansyah discuss plans to expand the Justice Party (PK), based on its reputation for clean government and adherence to Islamic values.

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