Indonesia’s capital, Jakarta, has a new incoming governor. Anies Baswedan, a former minister of education, bested incumbent Basuki Tjahaja Purnama (popularly known as Ahok). While results of the April 19 election have implications for future leadership races in Indonesia, the most important element of the vote is the growth of religious intolerance in the country. Radical Islam appears to be ascendant in Indonesia, an extremely worrisome development.
Forecasts that Ahok would prevail in the ballot were upended by a campaign against him led by radical Islamist groups. Those groups charged Ahok, a Christian, with blaspheming by mocking a Quranic verse during a campaign rally last September. Even though leading Islamic scholars dismissed the charge, the Indonesian Ulama Council, the country’s supreme Islamic group, issued a ruling (a fatwa) that concluded Ahok was in fact guilty. The radicals used that ruling to get millions of people to join anti-Ahok rallies, which in turn prompted the Indonesian government to open its own investigation into the charges and resulted in a blasphemy trial.