President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo has said that Indonesia’s democracy “has gone too far” as it has allowed sectarianism to flourish and threaten national unity.
Speaking to leaders of political parties at an event held by the Hanura Party in Sentul, Bogor, West Java, on Wednesday, the President expressed his concerns that “political freedom has paved the way for extreme political practices, such as liberalism, radicalism, sectarianism, fundamentalism and other ideologies that are against Pancasila.”
“Many people have asked me if our democracy has gone too far. My answer is yes, it has,” Jokowi said.
Jokowi, whose victory in the 2014 presidential election was widely touted as a victory for Indonesian democracy, said the politicization of sectarian issues and the rise of hate speech and fake news reflected “a deviation in [our] democratic practices”.
Jokowi’s statement came after thousands of conservative Muslims swarmed the House of Representatives’ compound on Tuesday to demand that the legislative body push President Jokowi to suspend Jakarta Governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama. It was the latest political demonstration against the Jakarta leader, now on trial for blasphemy.
The remarkable rise of Ahok, a Christian and Chinese-Indonesian, in Indonesian politics has provoked hard-line Islamic groups and sparked debates about relations between religion and politics in the Muslim majority country.
“In the past four to five months our energy was entirely spent on [sectarian issues] so we forgot about economic growth,” the President said.