Speaking from his home in West Java, Chep Hermawan, the leader of the Islamic Reform Movement (Garis), said that 40,000 protesters were expected to rally in front of the Presidential Palace in Jakarta on June 1.
“Basically everyone who is a staunch critic of SBY will be on board,” Chep said, referring to President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. “It will be like Cairo, where everyone who didn’t like Mubarak joined forces to topple a corrupt government.”
Chep named Sri Bintang Pamungkas, a Suharto-era political activist, and Andi Mapetahang Fatwa, a member of the Regional Representatives Council (DPD), as being among the nationalists who had expressed an interest in taking part in the rally.
“We plan on doing this on the anniversary of the Pancasila,” Chep said, referring to the state ideology first articulated by former President Sukarno on June 1, 1945.
Chep said Muslim groups were hoping to return the Pancasila to its original state, as outlined in the Jakarta Charter of June 22, 1945. The first principle of the Jakarta Charter, which was ultimately incorporated into the preamble of the constitution, was the “obligation for all followers to observe Shariah law.” It was later changed to “Belief in the one and only God,” by then-Vice President Mohammad Hatta.
“We want the Pancasila to return to its original state,” Chep said. “We don’t reject the Pancasila, rather we want to restore it to its intended purpose.”
The protest, Chep added, would also cover other topical issues. “Basically our plan is to stage a rally that appeals to all, not just Muslims,” he said. “We have been talking with the nationalists and they agreed to join our rally, but they will be pushing labor issues, agricultural reform and so on.”
Demonstrators, he said, would also demand the dissolution of Ahmadiyah, a minority Islamic sect considered deviant by mainstream Muslims.
In February, a massive rally by hard-line groups demanded Yudhoyono issue a decree banning Ahmadiyah, threatening a revolution if he failed to do so by March 1. Nothing has happened since the deadline passed.
Chep blamed a lack of coordination and funds for the failure of the February protests.
For the June protest, Chep said that meetings had been, and would continue to be, held with leaders of opposition parties and former presidential candidates, asking them for political and financial support. “I have also prepared Rp 2 billion [$234,000] to finance the rally in the hope that opponents of the government will be convinced to invest as well,” Chep said.
Executives of the hard-line Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) and the Islamic People’s Forum (FUI) said they had not yet heard of the plan.