Islamic law bid fails in Jakarta

Overwhelming opposition at MPR leads the two parties which lobbied hardest for it to back down from demanding a vote
The Straits Times (Singapore), Aug. 10, 2002,1870,136699,00.html?
By Marianne Kearney

JAKARTA – Despite strong lobbying and numerous protests here, Muslim groups appear to have failed in their bid to have Islamic syariah law introduced as an integral part of Indonesia’s Constitution.

The two parties which lobbied hardest for its introduction – the United Development Party of Vice-President Hamzah Haz and the Crescent Star Party – have backed down from a demand that the People’s Consultative Assembly vote on the issue today.

Their turnaround comes in the face of overwhelming opposition at the assembly, or MPR – the country’s highest legislative body.

‘The buzz is that these parties have given up in the final plenary, and that they won’t be blocking constitutional changes,’ said Mr Andrew Ellis from the National Democratic Institute.

The two parties form only a minority in the MPR and analysts said if the proposal went to the vote, it would almost certainly be defeated.

Rather than have that happen, the two would prefer to consolidate their positions and possibly make a renewed push at next year’s MPR.

In the past week, several thousand members of the militant Islamic Defenders’ Front, as well as other hardline groups, have marched on Parliament, where the MPR is meeting, demanding that syariah be introduced.

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Religion News Blog posted this on Saturday August 10, 2002.
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