Indonesians hold anti-communist protests outside Parliament

Indonesians hold anti-communist protests on Friday, September 29, against the increasing communist wave across Indonesia, blaming President Widodo for being the son of communists.


Protesters led by Islamist groups held a rally outside Indonesia's parliament on Friday, September 29. The protesters raised their voice against communism and how it is increasingly becoming a threat to world's most populous Muslim-majority country.

The police were fully armed and stood with water cannons behind wired fences. However, the rally was peaceful and the number of protesters far smaller than what had been estimated by the authorities and the police.

Some protesters prayed and held banners discarding communism and its norms. They also promoted a government decree targeting established organizations that were used to dissolve Hizb ut-Tahrir Indonesia, an Islamist group.

"The country is giving space to communists and their activities," said Mohamad Khairudin, 42, a protester who had travelled all the way from Surabaya, Indonesia's second-largest city.

"Members of parliament have communist sympathies. And at the same time they are limiting space for Islamic organisations and criminalising ulama (scholars)," Khairudin further added.

Khairudin said he believed reports on social media accusing President Joko Widodo of being the son of communists and not a true Muslim. Widodo denied being connected to the communists.

Communism is a sensitive issue in Indonesia.

The protest took place on the eve of the 52nd anniversary of the murder of a young lieutenant and six army generals by rebel armed forces. This act led to the mass slaughter of at least 500,000 communists.

This massacre led to the former general, Suharto's dictatorship of 30 years. His regime eventually gave birth to the communist purge.

Indonesia's Communist Party (PKI) was once one of the largest communist parties in the world. It is now considered to be extremely outlawed. Surprisingly, the party hardly follows Marxist ideologies.

A survey conducted in September revealed that only 12 percent of 1,220 Indonesians believed the communist party might make a comeback.

Analysts and government advisers accused President Widodo of inducing the "red scare", apparently because he follows communism.

"We support parliament in ridding itself of PKI," said Slamet Maarif, one of the rally organisers. He shamed the government for creating a rift between the state and Islam, and also for imposing a decree that banned big organisations.

Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) organised Friday's rally. FPI is known for leading successful rallies. Their protests in 2016 demanded the imprisonment of Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, a Chinese Christian, who was Jakarta's governor at that time, for being blasphemous.