Indonesia | 06 March 2022

Indonesia: How relevant are NU and Muhammadiyah?

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After elections for a new leadership of Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), reported by WWR on 18 February 2022, two articles discuss the group"s potentially dwindling influence on Indonesian society. World Watch Research analyst Thomas Muller explains: "In an article published on 10 February 2022, New Mandala pointed to the fact that the NU consists of different factions and the elections publicly played out which one held more power. However, it remains to be seen if a movement seeking to return to the roots of its original founding in 1926 and a retreat from (party) politics will succeed and be perceived as credible, especially when the younger brother of the recently elected NU leader wields political power as the government"s Minister of Religion. Pointing to a potentially much larger challenge was an article in The Jakarta Post from 11 February 2022: This brought home the fact that NU and another very large Muslim organization, Muhammadiyah, have their roots in the rural parts of Java. Thus, they risk being disconnected from an increasingly urbanized audience - typified, for instance, by ever expanding Metro Jakarta with its more than 30 million inhabitants - which has very different interests and needs. An area where this divergence is particularly evident is the vast number of followers online preachers enjoy. These preachers are not connected to either the NU or Muhammadiyah and often propagate radical Islamic opinions. Apart from the difficulties this causes NU, it also poses potential danger for religious minorities in Indonesia."


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