So-called sharia laws are no threat to Indonesian unity, Indonesians are just conservative.
Blake Respini from San Francisco State University and Herdi Sahrasad from Paramadina University write in the Jakarta Post that a
critical component for Indonesia's democratic future involves recognition of the special role of Islam in the state.
most Indonesian Muslims want their government to respect Islamic customs
but they don't want
an Islamic state
The laws around the country that seem to be based on Islamic sharia, like dress laws in Padang and anti-prostitution and anti alcohol laws in Tangerang and elsewhere, are not necessarily anything to do with Islamic law because:
Indonesians usually hold conservative values and support strict moral laws without necessarily seeing them as purely religious or sharia-based.
A conservative moral law is not necessarily related to Islamism, it is a reflection of basic conservative moral values and beliefs.
Sharia will have to be accepted in some form:
The debate over the passage of sharia-based legislation reflects that Indonesia continues to map out the most central questions concerning the basic shape of its democracy. The debate is less a debate about whether sharia is good or bad, but more about the proper meaning of sharia and its relationship to the state and thus its relationship to the national ideology of Pancasila.
Ultimately, it reflects a deep debate over the very meaning of the Indonesian nation and what it means to be Indonesian.
The challenge for Indonesia is to find a place for sharia that neither subverts the uniqueness of Indonesia from the rest of Islam nor undermines Indonesia's non-Muslims.