×

The Islamist Challenge to Jokowi

Letter from Jakarta

Members of the Islamic Defenders Front at a protest against acting Jakarta Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, in Jakarta, November 2014. Darren Whiteside / REUTERS

Around lunchtime on December 2, the skies opened over Jakarta. But the downpour was probably the last thing on Indonesian President Joko Widodo’s mind as he strolled the few hundred yards from the presidential palace to a nearby plaza, where an estimated half a million Islamist protesters were chanting for the arrest of one of his political allies. 

Such blusukan—casual walkabouts in markets and villages—were a key part of Widodo’s electioneering and made him seem a down-to-earth man of the people in voters’ eyes. All the same, the protesters were taken aback by the president’s gate-crashing, especially when he joined their ranks, which included some of Indonesia’s most hard-line Islamist leaders, for Friday prayers. 

“Jokowi,” as the president is known, commended the drenched crowd for assembling peacefully, interspersing his brief cameo with cries of “Allahu Akbar,” and prayed with Habib Rizieq Shihab, the head of

Loading, please wait...

Related Articles

This site uses cookies to improve your user experience. Click here to learn more.

Continue