Jakarta – The Indonesian Ulama Council (MUI) officially appointed its new leadership board for the period 2020-2025 during its 10th National Conference which was held in Jakarta on November 25-27.
During the national conference Miftachul Akhyar was elected as the new MUI general chairperson replacing Vice President Ma'ruf Amin. Amin meanwhile, remains part of the MUI leadership as the chairperson of the advisory board. The conference also appointed Amirsyah Tambunan as secretary general.
The appointments were accompanied by the removal of several names from MUI's leadership board. One of those who are no longer part of the leadership structure is Din Syamsuddin.
During the period 2015-2020, Syamsuddin held the post of MUI advisory board chairperson alongside Amin and Anwar Abbas as general secretary. He also once held the post of MUI deputy chairperson for the period 2005-2010 and was even removed as MUI general chairperson for the period 2014-2015.
Syamsuddin is currently active with the Save Indonesian Action Coalition (KAMI) which since its declaration in August has often launched criticisms of the government.
And it is not just Syamsuddin, several other officials affiliated with the 212 actions organised by the 212 Alumni Brotherhood (PA 212) such as Bachtiar Nasir, Yusuf Muhammad Martak and Tengku Zulkarnain have also been kicked out of the leadership.
Nasir held the position of advisory board deputy secretary for the period 2015-2020.
He was known as an ulama (Islamic cleric) that was often at odds with the government. His name began to be known by the public during the religious blasphemy case against former Jakarta governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama in 2016-17.
At the time he emerged as the chairperson of the National Movement to Safeguard the Indonesian Ulema Council's Fatwa (GNPF-MUI), one of the groups behind the 411 and 212 actions.
The next person is Zulkarnain who is known as an Islamic preacher who loudly criticised government policy and is close to PA 212 figures such as Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) leader Rizieq Shihab. During the period 2015-2020 Zulkarnain held the post of MUI secretary general.
The final name expelled from the MUI leadership is Yusuf Muhammad Martak. Martak was MUI's treasurer for the period 2015-2020.
Martak is known by the public as the chairperson of the National Movement to Safeguard the Fatwas of the Ulema (GNPF Ulama), a successor to Nasir's GNPF-MUI. Over the last year, the GNPF Ulama often joined FPI and the PA 212 activities.
PA 212 Deputy Secretary General Novel Bamukmin suspects there was government interference in the composition of the new MUI leadership board. This suspicion emerged after former MUI chairperson Ma'ruf Amin was chosen as the organisation's advisory board chairperson at the conference.
In addition to this, Bamukmin said, this suspicion can also be seen from several Islamic clerics who are known to be at odds with the government who are now no longer in the MUI leadership.
Al-Azhar Indonesia University political observer Ujang Komarudin believes that the domination of Amin's forces in the MUI leadership is very striking. This, he said, has raised strong suspicion of government interference in the composition of the Islamic clerics' umbrella organisation leadership.
"It can be said that there was a kind of interference because Ma'ruf Amin is the vice president, right. Of course the government wants the ulama council to be under control. So that it can get rid of its critics and it can be controlled", Komarudin told CNN Indonesia on Friday November 27. (yoa/bac)
[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "Pembersihan Gerbong 212 di Balik Wajah Baru MUI".]