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Indonesia in the 21st century : Muslim Debates on Society, Ideas and Values

Visiting Speaker: Dr Carool Kersten ( Kings College London)

Fifteen years after the fall of the Suharto Regime in 1998, Indonesia's Muslims are still pondering what role religion should play in public life. Although the religious violence marring the initial transition towards democratic reform has died down, in the first decade of the 21st century, the Muslim community has polarized into reactionary and progressive camps. Debates over the underlying principles of the democratization process have further heated up after a fatwa issued by conservative religious scholars condemned secularism, pluralism and liberalism as un-Islamic. With a hesitant government dominated by Indonesia's eternal political elites failing to take a clear stance, supporters of the fatwa feel vindicated to pursue their Islamization agendas with renewed vigour, displaying growing intolerance towards other religions and what they consider deviant Muslim minorities. Their progressive opponents are defiantly challenging this reactionary trend by calling for a true transformation of Indonesian society based on democratic principles and respect for universal human rights standards. What is ultimately at stake in these debates is what kind of country the worlds largest Muslim nation state wants to be.

Event details

Dr Carool Kersten


Institute of Arabic and Islamic Studies