See More on Facebook

Curiosity, Politics

Indonesian political parties clash over sharia-based bylaws

Sharia law is once again in the headlines as parties debate its merits and the need for secularism.


Written by

Updated: November 19, 2018

Indonesian Solidarity Party (PSI) chairman Grace Natalie’s declaration that her party was against religion-based regulations has reignited the controversy surrounding the proliferation of sharia-inspired bylaws in regions across the country.

“The PSI will prevent the emergence of injustice, discrimination and all intolerant acts in this country. The PSI will never support gospel-based bylaws or sharia-based bylaws,” Grace said last week at a celebration of the PSI’s fourth anniversary.

Her remarks came as some local politicians in several regions promised to enact “morality” bylaws in what analysts say is an attempt to win votes in the 2019 legislative election, particularly from Muslim constituents.

The statements drew criticism from an Islamist group that has accused Grace of blasphemy and from the older parties within both the ruling coalition and the opposition, which were quick to defend sharia-based bylaws.

“It is fardhu kifayah [a collective obligation] for there to be a political party that is focused on implementing sharia principles in Indonesian laws and regulations,” United Development Party (PPP) chairman Romahurmuziy wrote in an Instagram post on Saturday. “That is why we in the PPP will continue to safeguard sharia bylaws because, for us, adopting sharia principles is a reflection of Pancasila as seen in the spirit of Belief in the One and Only God.”

Gerindra Party executive Sodik Mudjahid echoed Romy’s statement that sharia-based laws were in accordance with the values of state ideology Pancasila.

“The values of Islamic sharia and those of other religions in Indonesia are the soul and pillars of Pancasila’s five principles,” he told The Jakarta Post on Sunday.

“People who say sharia should be fought because it contradicts Pancasila do not understand the history, essence, philosophy and substance of Pancasila.”

Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) executive Suhud Aliyudin also reiterated his party’s support for sharia-based laws and regulations, adding that regulations that were considered intolerant could be challenged in court. “If someone does not agree [with a sharia bylaw] or believes it causes intolerance, then they have to prove it in court through a judicial review.”

Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) lawmaker and Jokowi-Ma’ruf Amin campaign team member Eva Kusuma Sundari, on the other hand, said the PDI-P was against “exclusive” religion-based bylaws that could often lead to discrimination.

“We support sharia bylaws that are universal, such as those that fight against poverty and ignorance. We also support specific but optional bylaws such as those on sharia banking,” she said. “But we do not agree with exclusive bylaws that are discriminatory, for example, bylaws that restrict women from being out of the house at night and bylaws that create religion-based segregation.”

Golkar Party lawmaker Firman Soebagyo said that the matter was a sensitive one, but that in principle, “regional bylaws should not contradict existing laws and the constitutions”.

“Bylaws should safeguard our national unity and diversity.”

Sharia bylaws are widely popular among Indonesian Muslims, with 90.9 percent of 1,620 respondents in a 2017 Institute of South East Asian Studies survey saying that there were benefits to implementing sharia law.

Research conducted by University of London political analyst Michael Buehler found that 443 sharia-based regulations had been issued at the provincial, regency and municipal levels between 1998 and 2013. The regulations were enacted by regional heads and legislative councils from both secular and Islamic parties.

In his 2016 book, The Politics of Shari’a Law, Buehler argues that politicians’ support for sharia-based bylaws and regulations was more the result of political considerations than ideological or religious ones. “State elites in Indonesia are opportunist Islamizers whose affection for Islamic law is less emotional than transactional,” he wrote.

A 2015 survey conducted by the Center for the Study of Islam and Society (PPIM) also found that political interests were primarily responsible for the implementation of sharia bylaws, with most of the bylaws that the study reviewed in Jakarta, Banten and West Java, being passed during local election campaign periods.



Enjoyed this story? Share it.


The Jakarta Post
About the Author: The Jakarta Post is one of Indonesia's leading English-language daily newspapers.

Eastern Briefings

All you need to know about Asia


Our Eastern Briefings Newsletter presents curated stories from 22 Asian newspapers from South, Southeast and Northeast Asia.

Sign up and stay updated with the latest news.



By providing us with your email address, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.

View Today's Newsletter Here

Curiosity, Politics

Modi defends citizenship decision

PM Modi says it has nothing to do with Indian Muslims. Prime Minister Narendra Modi said, that unity in diversity is integral to India while addressing ‘Aabhar Rally’ at Delhi’s Ramlila Maidan today to kick start Bharatiya Janata Party’s Delhi Assembly Elections campaign slated for early next year, amid protests in Delhi and all over the country against the contentious Citizenship Act and the National Register of Citizenship(NRC). Modi raised slogan of ‘vividhta me ekta, Bharat ki visheshta’ (Unity in diversity is India’s speciality). PM Modi while giving his party and government’s view on CAA and NRC said, “Muslims being misled, I have always ensured that documents will never come in way of development schemes and their beneficiaries.” Citizenship law and NRC have nothing to do with Indian Muslims or with Indian citizens, he clarified. “We have never asked


By The Statesman
December 23, 2019

Curiosity, Politics

Rallies rage on in India over citizenship law

Thousands of students flood streets of Delhi; Assam state sees five protesters shot dead. Thousands of university students flooded the streets of India’s capital yesterday, while a southern state government led a march and demonstrators held a silent protest in the north-east, to protest against a new law giving citizenship to non-Muslims who entered India illegally to flee religious persecution in several neighbouring countries. The protests in New Delhi followed a night of violent clashes between the police and demonstrators at Jamia Millia Islamia University. People who student organisers said were not students set three buses on fire and the police stormed the university library, firing tear gas at students crouched under desks. Members of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ruling Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party said opposition parties were using th


By The Straits Times
December 17, 2019

Curiosity, Politics

Japan: Koizumi offers no concrete plan on coal

The new environment minister needs to offer better ways to tackle climate change.  During a ministerial meeting of the U.N. climate summit in Madrid on Wednesday, Shinjiro Koizumi, the Environment Minister did not express concrete steps for reducing coal-fired thermal power generation. Environment Minister Shinjiro Koizumi did not express concrete steps for reducing coal-fired thermal power generation, for which construction of new plants is currently underway in Japan, during a ministerial meeting of the U.N. climate summit in Madrid on Wednesday. “I am afraid I cannot share new development on our coal policy today,” Koizumi said at the ongoing 25th Conference of the Parties to the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate


By The Japan News
December 13, 2019

Curiosity, Politics

Taiwan among top 10 study destinations for U.S. students

Thailand and Singapore among other Asian destinations. China welcomed the highest number of U.S. students last year, followed by Japan and India in second and third places, respectively, according to a recent survey about exchange students in Asia. South Korea, Thailand, Hong Kong, Vietnam, Singapore, Taiwan, and Indonesia rounded up the top 10 list of the most popular Asian countries among U.S. students. According to AsiaExchange, “The high level of education, low exposure to crime, economic freedom and good healthcare system are a few examples of why Taiwan is ranked 2nd on the annual Global Peace Index.” It’s also very safe to live in Taiwan, as crime rates are low, the Website stressed, noting that Taiwan’s focus on human rights, gender equality and freedom of speech has made it a top destination for education. Taiwan, whose institutions are strong and reliable, has remained la


By Warren Fernandez
December 12, 2019

Curiosity, Politics

Power transition after Apec summit

Mahathir open to stepping down after APEC summit. Dr Mahathir Mohamad, the world’s oldest prime minister, has promised to hand over power to anointed successor Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim in spite of new sexual assault allegations against him. Dr Mahathir, 94, said he would not hand over before a summit of Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) countries that Malaysia is to host in November 2020, but could be ready after that. “I made a promise to hand over and I will, accepting that I thought that a change immediately before the Apec summit would be disruptive. “As far as I’m concerned, I’m stepping down and I’m handing the baton to him (Anwar). If people don’t want him, that is their business, but I will do my part of the promise… irrespective of whatever allegation. I made my promise, I keep my promise, ” he said in an interview w


By The Star
December 11, 2019

Curiosity, Politics

Communist Party of China calls for efforts to deepen reform and expand opening-up

Political Bureau stresses importance of winning three critical battles in 2020. The Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China Central Committee called on Friday for solid efforts to deepen reform and expand opening-up, amid tensions in the external environment, to ensure that the goal of building a moderately prosperous society in all respects will be attained next year. The general trend of China’s economy in maintaining stable and long-term positive operation remains unchanged, according to a statement released after the bureau’s meeting, presided over by Xi Jinping, general secretary of the CPC Central Committee. China will keep its economic growth within a reasonable range in 2020, with more “forwarding-looking, targeted and effective” policies, the statement said. The nation will pursue a policy framework that allows macro policies to be stable, micro policies


By Esther Ng
December 9, 2019