10/28/2017, 10.19
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Jakarta approves law against Islamist organizations

by Mathias Hariyadi

The measure allows the government to ban organizations threatening the unity of the country. Among the goals of the decree is Hizbut Tahir Indonesia (HTI), a group that promotes sharia and the caliphate. The protests of extremists.

Jakarta (AsiaNews) - The Indonesian Parliament approved a bill on mass organizations, despite the protests of Islamist movements. The measure, promoted by the administration of President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo, and approved on October 24, will allow the central government to ban organizations threatening the secular nature of the country. Fadli Zon, Speaker of Parliament, confirmed that of the over 445 MEPs gathered at plenary assembly, 314 voted in favor of the new norm.

Last July, the administration officially published the so-called Perppu n. 2/2017, a measure that replaces an existing law by allowing the government to avoid a long process in enforcing the ban. Analysts say that among the goals of the decree was Hizbut Tahir Indonesia (HTI), a group that promotes the adoption of sharia and the establishment of a caliphate in the country. This ideology contrasts with the political doctrine of the Pancasila, the foundation of unity and national pluralism.

Following the ratification of the Perppu, dozens of Islamist anti-law organizations organized numerous protests, accusing President Widodo's nationalist government of attacking Indonesian social freedom. Among the movements that took part in the demonstrations were the HTI and the Islamic Defender Front (Fpi), responsible for the rise of the sectarian episodes in the country during the elections for the Jakarta governorate last April. The Chinese-born Christian Basuki Tjahaja "Ahok" Purnama challenged former Minister of Culture and Education Anies Baswedan. The HTI, along with other radical groups such as the Idf, is behind numerous and violent mass protests against then-governor of the city, Widod's ally. They marked the months of the electoral campaign, fueling controversy and tension throughout the country.

Ahok's re-election was also hindered by an infamous allegation of blasphemy, which, according to analysts, influenced the outcome of the electoral round. To the surprise of many, the Christian candidate lost to his rival and was sentenced to two years in prison, despite prosecutors having asked the judges for a milder punishment, as he was not guilty of the offense involved. Following the controversial verdict, Indonesian civil society reacted with spontaneous demonstrations of support for Ahok, who has since become a symbol of democracy and good governance.

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