In August 2002, a number of Islam-based political parties demanded the Jakarta Charter be included in the Constitution, which would mean that Muslims in Indonesia would have the obligation to live according to the prescriptions of Shariah law.
The effort was supported by a large number of — mainly hard-line — Islamic organizations, but nevertheless failed to pass through the House of Representatives, in part due to opposition from the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) and the — also Islam-based — National Awakening Party (PKB).
The Islamists had to change strategy. In 2004 a new law on regional autonomy gave them the opportunity they had been hoping for. They set about implementing “Shariah from below” by advocating across the archipelago local Shariah laws, which often included rules such as women being required to wear the hijab, and couples wanting to marry needing to read the Koran.
Islamic groups have long argued that their brand of “Shariah from below” need not alarm any skeptics. The reality, however, is that attacks on religious minorities have been frequent and even deadly in a number of regions were such laws have been implemented.
One proponent of Shariah, M.S. Kaban of the Crescent Star Party (PBB), has said that: “If Shariah is applied, the benefit is not just for the unity of Indonesia but also for a fair and cultural humanity, and for social justice for the whole of society.” Ma’ruf Amin of the Indonesian Council of Ulema (MUI) and Ismail Yusanto of the Liberation Party of Indonesia (HTI) echoed this sentiment. There was nothing to fear, they all said.
Hidayat Nur Wahid of the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) has argued, in a slightly different vein, that minority rights could be protected under a social contract similar to one that existed on the Arabian peninsular in the 7th century and formed the basis of the first Islamic caliphate: the Charter of Medina. It was an agreement between the Muslim, Jewish, Christian and pagan tribes of Medina, where the Prophet Muhammad first came to power. “Not only Muslims have the obligation to implement the Islamic Shariah; other groups [Jews and Christians in Medina] were given the authority to implement their religious orders,” Hidayat said.
There have been successes at the national level for the Shariah proponents, like the 2008 Law on Pornography. And there are restrictions on the building of houses of worship issued in 2006 and a joint ministerial decree severely limiting the activities of the minority Ahmadiyah sect. But the “Shariah from below” program runs particularly smoothly. Nowadays, at least 151 local Shariah bylaws have been adopted across Java, Sulawesi, Sumatra and West Nusa Tenggara.
In those areas, are adherents of minority religions sufficiently protected from persecution?
25 June 2013
Posted by IMAM SHOFWAN at 16:53