Shari’a and Regional Governance in Indonesia: A Study of Four Provinces
14 Pages Posted: 13 Jul 2014
Date Written: June 27, 2014
This paper aims to analyse the social and political determinants behind the proliferation of shari’a regional regulations at regional levels in Indonesia. Most studies have argued that Islamist groups are the key proponents of the implementation of shari’a in the public arena in the form of laws or regulations. It has been argued elsewhere that support for shari’a regional regulations in certain regions stems from a cultural movement expressing local religious identity. From this perspective, Islamist groups have influenced local political leaders, legislatures and various other political actors to implement shari’a in their regions as a way to recognise their cultural identities. In contrast, this paper argues that it is the political elites themselves who have played a pivotal role in adopting shari’a as a basis for regional regulation. This study is based on extensive research in several regions in Indonesia where shari’a regional regulations have been implemented — Aceh in Sumatra, Padang in West Sumatra, Cianjur in West Java, and Makassar in South Sulawesi. We argue that in each of these cases elites have manipulated religious sentiment to serve their own political interests. This helps to explain the recent stagnation in the introduction of new shari’a regional regulations. In many cases, politicians who initially supported the enactment of shari’a lost interest as soon as the political returns began to diminish.
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