Indonesia: Islamist Leader Behind Blasphemy Conviction for Jakarta Governor: All Chinese People Are Next

Indonesia: Islamist Leader Behind Blasphemy Conviction for Jakarta Governor: All Chinese People Are Next, by John Hayward.

Fresh from the outrageous conviction of Jakarta’s governor on trumped-up blasphemy charges, the leader of an influential Indonesian Islamist organization is targeting ethnic Chinese citizens and their money next. …

Indonesia’s growing Islamist problem is mixed with a long history of racial animosity toward ethnic Chinese, who are derided as greedy, arrogant, and untrustworthy. As Reuters recalls, Chinese citizens and their businesses were targeted during deadly riots in the Nineties, and Chinese Indonesians were barred from holding many public offices.

Modern Indonesia is described as having one of the most unequal distributions of wealth in the world. Ethnic Chinese, who make up less than five percent of the population, are said to control a disproportionate share of the country’s wealth and business capital. 70 percent is an often-cited figure, although the UK Guardian notes there is no hard data to support that claim; it appears to be a distortion of a 1995 study that found Chinese Indonesians in control of 68 percent of the top 300 conglomerates in the country. …

Before Ahok’s sentence was handed down, Foreign Policy sought to argue that no major Islamist political or cultural realignment for the world’s largest Muslim-majority nation was in progress, because the governor’s downfall could be attributed to ethnic, economic, and cultural frictions as well. (Among other things, Ahok had a habit of using salty language in his public speeches.) Unfortunately, another way to interpret the ultimate outcome is that Islamist groups will fold race and class tensions into their religious appeal, as Nasir’s interview demonstrates.

hat-tip Stephen Neil