Politicization of Religion and the Future of Democracy in Indonesia in Populism Theory

Nanang Hasan Susanto


After the fall of Soeharto’s repressive New Order, spirit for displaying religious symbols, especially Islamic symbols, into public sphere in Indonesia was getting stronger. In certain contexts, such a spirit has morphed into a political movement, or what is commonly referred to as populism. The most actual populist movement that has attracted attention of many in Indonesia recently can be found in Aksi Bela Islam(the Islam Defense Action) or ABI concerned with the issue of Al-Maidah: 51. The movement has successfully terminated Ahok, the incumbent governor, from political power in Jakarta. This study aims to analyze the politicization of religion in Indonesia according to populism theory. The result of the study shows that religious populism in Indonesia can be seen from two sides. On the one hand, populism is viewed as a result of social inequality in both national and global contexts, and on the other hand, it is a threat to the future of the consolidation process of democracy in Indonesia because of its exclusiveness, anti-multiculturalism, and anti-pluralism, so that it may create a tyranny of the majority over the rights of minority.


Politicization of Religion, Populism, Indonesia’s Democracy, Perda Sharia, Islam in Indonesia, Islamic populism, anti-multiculturalism, anti-pluralism

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