Menchik Speaks at Forum on Religion and Politics in Indonesia


Jeremy Menchik, Assistant Professor of International Relations at the Fredrick S. Pardee School of Global Studies at Boston University, spoke at a July 25, 2017 special open forum hosted by the United States-Indonesia Society entitled “The Interplay of Religion and Politics in Indonesia: What Does Jakarta’s Gubernatorial Election Signify?”

The forum explored how the recent gubernatorial elections in  Jakarta have taken Indonesia to a new place in its evolution as a country in which Islam, religious pluralism, and democracy co-exist. The incumbent in the election, Ahok, faced charges of blasphemy for comments he made regarding Islam during the campaign and was subsequently convicted for violations of Indonesia’s blasphemy law.

Menchik discussed the origins of the blasphemy law, the social and religious forces driving contemporary Islamic movements and the implications of the election for democracy in Indonesia and the larger Muslim world.

Menchik argued that while scholars are concerned about a new conservatism in Indonesian Islam following Jakarta’s gubernatorial election, these fears miss the mark. According to Menchik, an Ahok victory was unlikely due to the influence of Muslim moderates, who remain wary of non-Muslim leaders in Jakarta and nationally.

While many Indonesian Muslims are opposed to the country trending toward states like Saudi Arabia, they are equally opposed to the state becoming a secular, liberal democracy, according to Menchik.

Jeremy Menchik’s research interests include comparative politics, religion and politics, Southeast Asia, and the Middle East. He is also the author of Islam and Democracy in Indonesia: Tolerance Without Liberalism. At Boston University he is a member of the graduate faculty of political science and coordinates the MAIA program with specialization in Religion and International Affairs.