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By: Stanislaus Riyanta*)
Did the 212 Rally Change Indonesian Political Map?
The peaceful and secure 212 rally was finally over. The ambiance of the safe and controlled demonstration is quite encouraging. Participants from various regions in Indonesia got together in National Monument and its surroundings for a purpose. This was the first time where an enormous number of Muslim got together in a religious rally. Without reducing GNPF MUI’s role as an initiator, this 212 rallywas closely connected with Habib Rizieq Syihab, chairman of Front Pembela Islam (FPI).

Habib Rizieq Syihab successfully demonstrated his influence on the society as a whole. Islamic organizations such as Muhammadiyah and NU have been saying that there is no need for a further rally after Basuki Purnama Tjahaja has beendesignated as a suspect charged with blasphemy. The government also gave the same appeal; even the police spread edict on the rally. Religious leaders and regions leaders were also making an appeal saying that there is no need for further rally. This was done to prevent the mass arrival on 212 rallies in Jakarta.
But the effort that the government had done was not effective; huge crowds still came to join the 212 rally. People used all means of transportation to join the demonstration; they used buses, ships, aircraft, and even on foot. The President, Vice President, Minister of pPolitic, Security and Law, Army Commander and Chief of Police, who previously said that there was no need to hold another rally, ended up coming and stood on the same stage as Habib Rizieq Syihab. President Joko Widodo and his people came to Monas on foot from the Palace to join Friday prayers with the masses who came from various regions in 212 rally.
The arrival of President Joko Widodo is likely to show that the government was there and they were not opposing 212 rally. President Joko Widodo also proved that the stigma about avoiding GNPF MUI was not true. A short speech of gratitude from President Joko Widodo was the finale of this rally. No wonder so many people think that Habib Rizieq Syihab was the one who invited people to Jakarta while President Joko Widodo is the one who sent them home.
The presence of President Joko Widodo was considered as a gesture of winning without ngasorake (win without degrading himself). But of course, those who say otherwise do not lose much. The presence of President Joko Widodo in the 212 rally indirectly deemed as giving legitimacy on the demands and Habib Rizieq strength. Habib Rizieq Syihab also used this opportunity to show his strength with oration "catch the blasphemer" that was heard directly by President Joko Widodo.We can never see this kind of oration in aonyprotocoler events for President.
The political elite and organizations such as NU, Muhammadiyah and of course the Palace have to see and consider Habib Rizieq Syihab’s strength. All this time, Habib Rizieq Syihab is only reckoned as the leader of FPI, an organization often appeared in mass media with its pros and cons. Habib Rizieq Syihab’s expertise to take this blasphemy case, along with heated political election atmosphere, to mobilize the power of the masses should be recognized.
Habib Rizieq Syihab through 212 rallyhas succeeded in creating a blasphemer as Muslims common enemy. Blasphemy allegedly committed by Basuki Tjahaja Purnama (Ahok) has a tremendous appeal that makes a significant number of people gather as one.
Political Parties with a religious platform have to recalculate their power and their leader figures. Habib Rizieq Syihab who is proved to be able to gather people is a potential figure that needs to be considered. Habib Rizieq Syihab can enter the political world. If this happens, it will change the strength of the existing political parties.
The pros and cons that the community see in Habib Rizieq Syihab can be used as a campaign to increase his popularity. Habib Rizieq Syihab could be a political party’s tool to gain votes, but he could also be a threat to opposition party with the same platform. In fact, it's not impossible if Habib Rizieq Syihab made the FPI as a political party of his own later. If this happens, he will change the Indonesian political dynamics; Habib Rizieq Syihab’s tone and style will come to fill the political space in Indonesia.
Figure was the most important element for the existence ofpolitical parties and organizations. After 212 rally, it is possible that Habib Rizieq Syihab will change the political map in Indonesia. At least, political parties will begin to consider Habib Rizieq Syihab’s power seriously. Will Habib Rizieq Syihab change the map of political forces in Indonesia? Let us wait!
*) an alumnus of the Graduate Studies in Strategic Intelligence, University of Indonesia, live in Jakarta.


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