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The Politics of Islam in Indonesia

Recorded on April 16, 2007

Location: The Heritage Foundation's Lehrman Auditorium

Indonesia is by far the largest Muslim-majority country in the world, and the world's third largest democracy.  It is generally well-known that Islam in Indonesia is mainstream and politically moderate.  Less well appreciated are the complexities of Indonesia's politics. 

Indonesia is not an "Islamic state."  Neither is it, however, a secular society.  In fact, displays of piety and Islamic consciousness are on the rise, and the political appeal to Islam has only grown with Indonesia's democracy.  But, what does this mean?  How will the debate among traditionalists, modernists, conservatives, and radicals play out?  What are the trend lines?  What do these trends mean for Indonesia's role in the world?  What do the trends mean for U.S.-Indonesia relations? 

Indonesia is at the heart of economic and political development in East Asia.  It has assumed a leading role in the battle against terrorism.  And it aspires to global leadership.  How its political environment develops is a matter of serious interest to American policy makers.