As candidates hit the campaign trail in preparation for Indonesia’s presidential election in July, rights groups have voiced strong opposition to an increasing number of sharia-inspired laws introduced by local governments. They say the laws discriminate against religious minorities and violate Indonesia’s policy of Pancasila, or “unity in diversity.”
With legislative elections coming in April and President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono likely to form a coalition with several Islamic parties for the July presidential election, such laws could become a key campaign issue.
Sixteen of 32 provinces have passed laws influenced by sharia. These laws vary widely in form. In Padang, both Muslim and non-Muslim women are required to wear headscarves, while a law in Tangerang allows women found “loitering” alone on the street after 10.00 pm to be arrested and charged with prostitution. Other laws include stipulate Quran literacy among schoolchildren and severe punishment for adultery, alcoholism and gambling. This is unacceptable because it is not in line with the pluralism that the constitution recognizes,” according to some lawyers.[…]
Under the Regional Autonomy Law, the central government has the power to block provincial laws but showed little willingness to do so until recently when it pledged to review 37 sharia-based ordinances deemed discriminatory and at odds with the constitution. Such reviews are politically sensitive and must be done on sound legal grounds. Advocates of sharia laws stress its divine origin and resist challenges that are based on constitutional grounds. “They maintain sharia is authorized directly by God, and political opposition is viewed as apostasy or blasphemy.”[…]
PKS is again expected to be a key player in this election. PKS draws its ideology from the Muslim Brotherhood, which believes in Islamic world dominance. PKS leaders are also vocal supporters of Abu Bakar Ba”asyir, leader of the terrorist group Jemaah Islamiyah (JI).
Crushed by the Egyptian government in the 1960s, members of the Brotherhood fled to Saudi Arabia, where they taught in the nation’s universities, influencing the future founders of Al Qaeda, Hamas, and Sudan’s National Islamic Front. The Brotherhood took root at a university in West Java in the 1970s in the form of Tarbiyah, a secretive student movement that eventually morphed into the Justice Party (JP) in 1998. Winning few votes, JP allied itself with a second party to form the PKS prior to the 2004 elections. Since then, PKS has gained widespread support.