E15: 212 Hardline Islamic Association

On this episode of the Indonesia In-depth podcast, we focus on the latest developments involving the controversial hardline Islamic association known as the 212 Alumni. This group was instrumental in the campaign against the former Jakarta governor Basuki Purnama (Ahok) in 2017. The 212 Alumni is making headlines once again as they hope to play another role in a new coalition to challenge President Widodo’s reelection run in 2019. I sat down with the 212 Alumni's advisory board chief and spokesperson, Eggi Sudjana.

The Indonesia In-depth podcast is available for free on iTunes, Google Play and Sound Cloud. All links are below. Here are the interview takeaways:

The 212 Alumni

+ The 212 Alumni is an association of hardline Islamic groups that was formed after the December 2, 2016 protest against former Jakarta Governor, Basuki Purnama (Ahok). Although the 212 Alumni is not a political party, the groups that make up the association continue to have some influence in Indonesia politics.

Widodo’s policy Is Against Islam 

+ The 212 Alumni believe Widodo policy of separation of religion and State opposes Islam. “This is a communist teaching. The Indonesia State in 1945 was based on Allah. The leaders of Indonesia must impose Islamic law. If Widodo and parliament had a strong belief in Islam and piety towards Allah, we would implement Islamic law.”

+ 212 Alumni claim they will never support Widodo unless he performs “constitutional repentance” and apologizes for supporting the separation of religion and State.

Identity Politics

+ Despite the fact that Governor Ahok had high approval ratings, lost the 2017 Jakarta Gubernatorial elections by double digits and was later sentenced to two years in prison under the blasphemy law, the 212 Alumni believe that the use of identity politics was ineffective citing that Ahok still received 22% of the Muslim vote in Jakarta.

212 Alumni’s Political Strategy in 2019 Elections 

+ Although identity politics was heavily used during the 2017 Jakarta gubernatorial election, Eggi said that the opposition would no longer use the same technique saying there will not be a non-Muslim candidate in the presidential election in 2019.

+ “Identity politics was a campaign tool. In the 2019 presidential election we will not face Kafir/disbeliever but a fellow Muslim. Jokowi and Prabowo are Muslims. We can no longer campaigning based on identity politics. There will be a different strategy for 2019. Ahok still got a large vote among Muslims therefore we are now focusing on new aspects and methods to use next year.”

Islamic Values, Pancasila and Democracy

+ Eggi said that the 212 Alumni aren’t against the state ideology Pancasila but oppose the requirement that Pancasila must be the base for all organizations, stating that Islam should be the base instead.

Islamic Law

+ The 212 Alumni blames the incompetence of President Widodo and lawmakers for preventing the implementation of Islamic Law in Indonesia. The 212 also reject the use of direct elections stating that “Such an important decision should be done by the people’s representatives that have the wisdom of Quran rather than by the weak, the poor, the less educated and prostitutes.”

212 Alumni Icon and FPI Leader, Habib Rizieq 

+ After being named a suspect in an alleged pornography case, the leader of Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) Habib fled to Mecca in April 2017. Charges against him were later dropped in June 2018.

+ From Mecca, Rizieq Shihab has been pushing parties to form the “Congregational Coalition”, which would consists of Great Indonesia Movement Party (Gerindra), Prosperous Justice Party (PKS), National Mandate Party (PAN), United Development Party (PPP) and Moon Star Party (PBB). The chairman of Gerindra, Prabowo Subianto and the founder of PAN, Amien Rais have visited Habib Rizieq in Saudi Arabia in recent months.

+ Habib Rizieq has yet to announce his plan to return to Indonesia.

Surabaya Terrorist Attacks

+ After series of attacks on church goers in Surabaya, East Java, the 212 Alumni say they have spoken out against the attacks but would not condemn them saying that the motives were unknown and the perpetrators were victims themselves because they have received a false doctrine because Islam does not teach or endorse such attacks.

+ Eggi strongly believes that acts of terrorism in Indonesia are “by design” by unknown groups but admits his claims are not back by hard evidence or data.