By Dandy Koswaraputra JAKARTA (AA) – The 212 Rally has created phenomenal momentum not only due to its success in mobilizing millions of people in central Jakarta, but also as a huge influencer for Muslims in voicing their aspirations towards change in Indonesia. A group calling itself the 212 Rally Alumni was established to gather people who joined the rally in December 2016. The recent rally drew a huge turnout and confirmed the solidity of Muslims for having a role in determining the country’s policies. According to the National Movement to Guard Ulama’s Religious Edicts (GNPF Ulama), this rally had no political purpose and is basically a moral movement.
GNPF-Ulama Chairman Yusuf Muhammad Martak shared his views with Anadolu Agency during an interview Wednesday in Jakarta. How do you view the 212 Rally, which successfully drew large crowds? This is the second reunion of 212 Rally alumni. So it was not a demonstration but a reunion. The first reunion was held in 2017, and this year’s rally was the second one. Thankfully, the enthusiasm during the recent reunion exceeded that of the initial rally in 2016, which called for the prosecution of then-Jakarta Governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama for blasphemy. We consider this event as a phenomenal momentum, as it was successfully held without coordination or assistance, both in terms of materials and logistics. I do not know what happened behind this, as this rally has no political agenda. Moreover, the blasphemer was imprisoned after we held several movements. Why has this rally continued even though Ahok was imprisoned? In fact, our fight can not end here. It must continue until there is a change in leadership which suits most citizens, especially Muslims. Our country has a lot of problems, while many promises have not been fulfilled. Many cases are being stalled in the process. Cases which have been reported by people who do not like us would be followed up by the authorities as soon as possible. The Habib Bahar case is an example. Another example is the Abu Janda case, which has repeatedly insulted Tawhid sentences. It has been reported many times, but there is still no follow-up. It is very strange. We witness many injustices. So I believe we need such reunions so that Muslims remain solid with ulama or national figures who support citizens, especially Muslims. How much do you expect from this movement to change things? As a national movement that guards the fatwa of ulama, we believe the spirit of togetherness among Muslims is very high. While it is true that the other side has religious figures, we consider it as common things. There must be supporters both on our side and the other side. In 2016, there were seven million people who joined the rally. In 2017, the amount reached to three to four million people. And during the recent rally, there were around 13 million participants. That is why I believe we have the power to change. It may be based on expectations from Muslims who experience or witness injustice. The vice president candidate, Ma’ruf Amin, also a cleric, said the 212 Reunion is not relevant anymore. What do you think about this statement? This reunion was held to remember an event, an activity or a group of people that had been together. So no one is allowed to say that the reunion should not be held. If the reunion is not necessary, how about the commemoration of Youth Pledge Day, Independence Day and the birth of Prophet? Should they all not be commemorated? Don’t let such a superficial statement just because people feel concerned and jealous. It is already a common issue that there is no one at any level, from any organization that could mobilize people at that scale of numbers without the power of God. Do you think the 212 solidarity will not turn into a move that can be considered resistance towards the current government? As the good citizens that comply with the law, we don’t criticize the government but the leader of the government. From the president [executive] to parliament and its coalition, all of them can be considered sterile. They don’t play an active role and don’t represent people’s interests. It’s not just said by me, even the Speaker of Parliament Yusuf Muhammad Martak said he doesn’t have any power. Do we have to stay silent? Of course not. People’s interests are more important. Don’t let the rumor of us being anti-government arouse. If we really are anti-government, we wouldn’t want to sit together. We have been sitting together. We reported every violation according to the procedure. We went to the police and waited until our report was followed up. There are times when people we reported were found not guilty. But we didn’t give up. We will continue to fight for justice. We don’t want the government institutions to cause damage to the state’s order. Finally, what do the 212 alumnus hope for the future? We hope we can gather and hold the reunion every year. We asked the participants if they want to do the reunion again, and they said yes. There must be a reunion again in the future.
I predict that in 2019, the reunion will be bigger than this year. Because, if God allows and with the greatness of God, Rizieq Shihab [Indonesian Islamic scholar and the founding leader of the Islamic Defenders Front] will have returned to the people who support him. And for the alumni who have never met Shibab [also known as Habib Rizieq] for two years, they can let go of their longing.
We hope that in the next years, the reunion will be more orderly and safer compared to the past. We hope all of us get blessings and help from God.