THE daughter of Indonesia’s founding father Sukarno has been accused of blasphemy against Islam for delivering a nationalist poem in which she was seen to criticise conservative Muslim practices.
Sukmawati Soekarnoputri was reported to the police by a lawyer named Denny Andrian Kusdayat, who took issue with her reciting a poem entitled “Ibu Indonesia” (Mother Indonesia) at an event during Indonesia Fashion Week. It espoused Islam Nusantara – the native, syncretist form of Islam native to Indonesia.
“I don’t know Shariah but I know the konde (Javanese hairstyle) of Mother Indonesia is very beautiful, more beautiful than your niqab (full facial veil worn by some Muslim women),” read the poem in question, which Sukmawati first published back in 2006.
“I don’t know Shariah but I know Mother Indonesia’s song, it’s so pleasing. More melodious than your call to prayer.”
The content of the poem was “disrespectful to religion”, said the chairman of Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) in East Java, Mutawakkil Alallah, who also reported Sukmawati to police as reported by The Jakarta Post. The NU is one of Indonesia’s professedly moderate Muslim groups and claims to be the largest Islamic organisation in the world.
During a press conference on Wednesday, the late president’s daughter – who herself is a practicing Muslim – teared up as she apologised to the Islamic community.
“From the bottom of my heart, I apologise to Indonesian Muslims, especially to those who feel offended and objected to the poem ‘Mother Indonesia’,” said Sukmawati as quoted by Benar News.
“I am a Muslim who is grateful and proud of my Islamic identity, a daughter of the founding father, Bung Karno, who was well-known as a Muhammadiyah figure and received an honour from Nahdlatul Ulama,” she added.
— ForumJurnalisMuslim (@forjimindonesia) April 6, 2018
Despite her apology, hardline Muslim groups held a protest at the national police headquarters on Friday to call for Sukmawati’s arrest.
In 2016 and 2017, similar groups held demonstrations against former Jakarta governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama, a Christian of Chinese ethnicity who is currently serving a two-year jail sentence for allegedly insulting Islam.