Islamising Indonesia The Rise of Jemaah Tarbiyah and the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS)

Executive Director of InMind Institute Yon Machmudi, Ph.D. wrote his doctoral thesis about Partai Keadilan Sejahtera (PKS), one of growing Islamic parties in Indonesia. His thesis is now published as a book by Australian National University (ANU) E Press. His book is accessible on

The post-Soeharto era of government in Indonesia, beginning in 1998, has witnessed the emergence of various Islamic groups and movements. The emergence of these new groups has not only displayed diversity in terms of their political and religious orientation, but they have also brought new actors and agendas to the fore. Greater space for political expression and political participation has been opened up. Interestingly, the Justice Party (PK) that did not have popular front figures, either from traditionalist or modernist camps, performed well but did not meet the electoral threshold during the 1999 general elections. However, it produced a remarkable achievement after changing its name into the Prosperous Justice Party, Partai Keadilan Sejahtera (PKS) in the 2004 general elections.

PKS is an interesting phenomenon in Indonesia. Its educated cadres, drawn mainly from university campuses, lead a dedicated membership. Its low profile performance and non-violent strategies have raised it to become the sixth largest political party in Indonesia. Its peaceful orientation, yet its criticism of Western domination of the global political order have been apparent during its many demonstrations, as the excerpt from an editorial in Media Indonesia above illustrates. PKS members have not hesitated to bring their families, including their small children, to their public demonstrations. Bringing along children to a demonstration is an obvious guarantee that it will be peaceful and safe. That is something that has been shown by the Prosperous Justice Party. The emergence of such a new force of political Islam represented by PKS is on the surface a recent phenomenon; in fact it has had a long history in Indonesia, which will be elaborated in this book.

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