A sense of shared experience and religious solidarity unite Muslims in Indonesia with their brethren living in the historic core of the Middle East. Yet the world’s largest Muslim nation – and third-largest democracy – remains distinct, the product of a unique Islamic identity shaped by centuries of interactions with different cultures and faiths. While some Indonesians hold radical and anti-American sentiments, others admire the United States and share the same values of freedom, multiculturalism, and democracy.
M. Syafi’i Anwar, Ford Foundation Visiting Fellow and Executive Director of the International Center for Islam and Pluralism in Jakarta analyzed “the interplay between U.S. Foreign Policy and political Islam in Indonesia”. Mr. Anwar emphasized how limited radical Islam is in Indonesia compared to the large, moderate movements like NU and Muhammadiya. He also mentioned that most Indonesians are in favor of a state based on Pancasila (5 Pillars) philosophy, not shari’a, while pointing out that levels of piety within citizens have significantly increased. Moreover; Mr. Anwar motioned that U.S. policy should not lead us to be complacent and suggested that both Americans and Indonesians should work together towards a better communication and better understanding.