A nation that is religious: Indonesia, the Ahmadiyah, and the state's SARA echoes

Bottomley, Daniel C.
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University of Delaware
This study explores the Indonesian state's role in the constitution, renegotiation, and regulation of Islamic and Indonesian identities through the Ahmadiyah controversy. The Ahmadis (a small sect whose beliefs regarding the Islamic Prophethood diverge from mainstream Islam) provide a lens through which state actions and non-elite reactions can be critically engaged and understood in Indonesia's broader context and history. What it reveals is an Indonesian governing apparatus that continues to rely on SARA logics of discipline and control used under the authoritarian rule of Suharto despite Indonesia's post-authoritarian transformations in government and governing. Through three cases of these SARA echoes of the past, snapshots of Indonesian nationalism emerge as the state's evolving role in regulating Muslim identities in Indonesia and prosaic responses to the state can be better understood. Ultimately, the Ahmadi dilemma provides a partial glimpse into Indonesia's ongoing national evolution and the means through which the nation is reproduced and disciplined.