, The Jakarta Post , Jakarta | Sat, 10/06/2007 8:20 AM
Alfian, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta
A study on the trends of Islam and secularism in politics found that Muslim support for secular politics is getting stronger although the backing for Islam values is still significant.
Organized by the Indonesian Survey Institute (LSI), the first question the survey wanted to answer was to what extent Indonesian Muslims support Islamic political values.
Respondents were asked their opinion on seven topics related to Islam, including stoning for adulterers, bank interest and women serving as president.
The results suggest that 57 percent of respondents disagree with Islamic values compared to 33 percent of respondents supporting the values.
The remaining 10 percent did not have an opinion.
""In general, support for secular politics is found in Indonesian Muslims,"" said LSI executive director Saiful Mujani.
Compared to LSI's surveys in 2005 and 2006, approval of secular ideas has increased.
Forty-one percent of respondents were against women presidential candidates in 2005. That number was 30 percent last year.
In 2007 just 21 percent of respondents disapproved of women presidential candidates.
""The issue of a woman as president is no longer problematic for the next election,"" Saiful said.
Despite a drop, support for Islamic ideals is still considered significant at 33 percent.
""If this power is active and well organized, it could be a considerable political power,"" said Saiful.
The study also explored respondents' awareness, support and participation in various organizations that clearly carry Islam as their political ideology, such as Islam Defenders Front (FPI), Indonesian Mujahidin Council (MMI) and Hizbut Tahrir Indonesia.
In the case of the FPI, for example, 41 percent of respondents were aware of its existence but only 13 percent supported the group.
Only a negligible 0.7 percent were actively involved with the group.
The study suggests that although respondents are relatively aware of the existence of these groups, there was far less support and participation.
""It shows that Muslim activists have yet to be able to turn significant support for Islamic political values into real social and political power,"" said Saiful.
He said limited resources, especially financial resources, left Islamic activists unable to manifest support into social movements and electoral power.
""Funding resources in Indonesia are still being monopolized by secular political groups,"" said Saiful.
""Once an Islamic organization gets involved in politics, it risks the chance of being secularized because it has to compromise a lot of things with reality.""
Saiful cited the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS), which has had to forge coalitions with secular-based parties in many regional elections due to financial constraints.
The survey involved 1,200 respondents nationwide, all eligible to vote. The respondents were interviewed face-to-face using the multistage random sampling method.
""Although a limited sample, the sample does represent the Muslim population in Indonesia,"" said Saiful.