Religious and pro-violence populism in Indonesia : The rise and fall of a far-right Islamist civilisationist movement

Journal article


Barton, Greg, Yilmaz, Ihsan and Morieson, Nicholas. (2021). Religious and pro-violence populism in Indonesia : The rise and fall of a far-right Islamist civilisationist movement. Religions. 12(6), p. Article 397. https://doi.org/10.3390/rel12060397
AuthorsBarton, Greg, Yilmaz, Ihsan and Morieson, Nicholas
Abstract

The first quarter of the twenty-first century has witnessed the rise of populism around the world. While it is widespread it manifests in its own unique ways in each society, nation, and region. Religious populism, once rarely discussed, has come to take a more prominent role in the politics of a diverse range of societies and countries, as religious discourse is increasingly used by mainstream and peripheral populist actors alike. This paper examines the rise of religious populism in Indonesia through a study of the widely talked about, but little understood, Islamic Defenders Front (FPI—Front Pembela Islam). The case study method used to examine the FPI provides a unique insight into a liminal organization which, through populist and pro-violence Islamist discourse and political lobbying, has had an outsized impact on Indonesian politics. In this paper, we identify the FPI as an Islamist civilizationist populist group and show how the group frames Indonesian domestic political events within a larger cosmic battle between faithful and righteous Muslims and the forces that stand against Islam, whether they be “unfaithful Muslims” or non-Muslims. We also show how the case of the FPI demonstrates the manner in which smaller, liminal, political actors can instrumentalise religion and leverage religious rhetoric to reshape political discourse, and in doing so, drive demand for religious populism. The paper makes two arguments: First, the FPI is an example of a civilizationist populist movement which instrumentalises religion in order to create demand for its populist solutions. Second, that as Islamic groups and organisations in Indonesia increasingly rely on religio-civilizational concepts of national identity, they become more transnational in outlook, rhetoric, and organisation and more closely aligned with religious developments in the Middle East.

Keywordspopulism; religious populism; civilizationism; Islamist populism; violence; far-right; Islamic Defenders Front (FPI); Indonesia; Islam
Year2021
JournalReligions
Journal citation12 (6), p. Article 397
PublisherMultidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute (MDPI AG)
ISSN2077-1444
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.3390/rel12060397
Scopus EID2-s2.0-85112603763
Open accessPublished as ‘gold’ (paid) open access
Research or scholarlyResearch
Page range1-22
Publisher's version
License
File Access Level
Open
Output statusPublished
Publication dates
Online29 May 2021
Publication process dates
Accepted24 May 2021
Deposited25 May 2022
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https://acuresearchbank.acu.edu.au/item/8xx4w/religious-and-pro-violence-populism-in-indonesia-the-rise-and-fall-of-a-far-right-islamist-civilisationist-movement

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