Islam and Democracy: Two Expressions of Islam in Contemporary Indonesia


Thursday, October 20, 2011, 10:00am to 3:00pm


124 Mt. Auburn Street, Suite 200-North, Cambridge, MA

About the Seminar
Islam is commonly perceived as incompatible with democracy. The nature of state in Indonesia proves that religion and the state are two separate entities. As the largest Muslim-majority country in the world, Indonesia was a democratic country from 1950 to 1957. The fall of former President Soeharto’s New Order authoritarian regime in 1998 has been an avenue to a new democratic Indonesia.

Nationalists, Islamists, and secular political parties compete in fair and free elections. Civil liberties and political rights, however, have allowed undemocratic forces such as transanstional Islamist radical movements and groups of Islamist thuggery to strive for an Islamist state in Indonesia.

This seminar will reveal the two expressions of liberal-democratic and radical-conservative Islam in Indonesia since 1998. Four speakers will elaborate the course of Islam and Democracy in Indonesia.

Seminar Schedule
10:00 - 10:15 a.m.: Coffee and refreshments
10:15 - 10:30 a.m.: Opening remarks by Elizabeth Osborn, Program Director, Harvard Kennedy School Indonesia Program

10:30 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.: Democratic Transition and Consolidation in Muslim-majority Countries: A Comparative Perspective

  • Robert Hefner, Director of the Institute on Culture, Religion, and World Affairs and Professor, Boston University

  • Tarek Masoud, Assistant Professor of Public Policy, Harvard Kennedy School

12:00 - 1:00 p.m.: Lunch

1:00 - 2:45 p.m.: Radical Islamist and Liberal Pluralist Islam in the Course of Indonesian Democratic Transition

  • M. Syafi’i Anwar, Senior Indonesia Research Fellow, Ash Center

  • Michael Buehler, Assistant Professor, Northern Illinois University

  • Masaaki Okamoto, Visiting Fellow at Harvard Yenching Institute and Associate Professor, Kyoto University

2:45 - 3:00 p.m.: Coffee and refreshments