Tuesday, December 30, 2014

The Reformasi '98 and the Arab Spring: A Comparative Study of Popular Uprisings in Indonesia and Tunisia

Asian Politics & Policy
Volume 6, Issue 2, pages 199–215, April 2014

Ahmad Najib Burhani†
  1. Ahmad Najib Burhani is a researcher at the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI), Jakarta. He received his PhD in Religious Studies from the University of California-Santa Barbara, USA. His academic interests include “minority religions in Islam,” “Islamic movements in Southeast Asia,” and “cosmopolitan sufism.”
  • Ennahda party;
  • political Islam;
  • politik aliran;
  • Rachid Ghannouchi;
  • secularism
By comparing popular uprisings in Indonesia and Tunisia, this article intends to answer the questions: What kind of condition made the Islamists successfully take over the state in Tunisia, while they failed to do so in Indonesia? What are the similarities and differences between the uprisings in these two countries? This article argues that the historical and sociopolitical position of Islamists during the authoritarian regimes determined the fate of Islamist parties after the uprisings. The role of Ennahda party as a symbol of opposition has contributed to its rise after the Tunisian Spring, while the involvement of Islamists in the regime during the last years of Suharto's rule contributed to the decline of Islamist parties in Indonesia. However, the strongest argument for the decline of Islamist parties in Indonesia is the fading away of political streams. Furthermore, the role of Muslim scholars in desacralizing Islamist parties in Indonesia has significantly challenged and undermined the identification of Islam with Islamist parties.


Review to the article:
A Study of Islamist Politics in Indonesia and Tunisia
24th April 2014 Posted by nyucenterfordialogues 3 notes

Here is a great comparative study by Ahmad Najib Burhani of the models of Islamist politics in Indonesia – the most populous Muslim country in the world – and Tunisia – the birthplace of the “Arab Spring.”

Burhani explores the gains made by Islamist groups following the 1998 uprising in Indonesia and the 2010 uprising in Tunisia. In Indonesia, Islamist politics are no longer synonymous with Islamist parties. Although initially, in 1955, in the first democratic election in Indonesia following its independence, Muslims were urged to vote only for Islamist parties, the country has since developed a more nuanced understanding of Islam and politics. Burhani makes the argument that Islamist civil society organizations, like Muhammadiyah and Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), have become the main forces behind Islamist politics in Indonesia, while the Islamist political parties have lost support.

In Tunisia, on the other hand, Ennahda, an allegedly moderate Islamist political party, wields virtually all of the Islamist political force. Ennahda won a plurality in the 2011 parliamentary elections (89 out of 217 seats) and used its gains to hold the Prime Minister’s office from then until January 2014. Although the Ennahda government was replaced with a coalition government in January, the party is still a major player in the Tunisian political field. It’s true that extremist Salafi group Ansar Al-Sharia makes the press with some its more high-profile tactics, but to most Tunisians, it is clear that the only Islamist group with any real sway is Ennahda. Yet, even Ennahda’s leader, Rachid Al-Ghannouchi, has made statements supporting a less politicized role for Islamism. Burhani points to a 2013 quote by Ghannouchi: “We do not need to impose Islam because it is the people’s religion and not the elite’s, and Islam has not endured for so long because of states’ influence, but rather due to the large acceptance it enjoys among its adherents, in fact the state has often been a burden on religion.”

Is it possible, as the Indonesian model seems to indicate, for Muslims, particularly “Islamists,” to support a secular political system? Should Ennahda take its leader’s advice and seek to keep Islam out of the formal governance structure? If so, perhaps Ennahda should consider empowering Islamist civil society organizations, rather than attempting to impose an Islamist order on the political system.

In Egypt, too, although the moment might be too late, it might be best for Islamists to reinforce the civil society aspect of the Muslim Brotherhood, instead of pushing for an explicit political role for the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP). Had Morsi and the FJP not demanded Islamist policies during their year in power, maybe the tragedies in Egypt last summer could have been avoided. Maybe, for once, Egypt could have had an option that was neither an Islamist dictatorship nor a military coup.


Also: http://blog.minaret.org/?p=11511&cpage=1#comment-1250767

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