The Islamic Defenders Front and Political Polarization in Indonesia


About the Webinar

Amid growing religious polarization since 2019, the return from self-exile of Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) leader Rizieq Shihab to Indonesia in November has revitalized the opposition movement against President Joko Widodo. Islamic populism is set to be a major force at the 2024 presidential election. In the near term, however, Rizieq Shihab’s fate is uncertain as the government seeks to curtail his activities and prevent mass mobilizations in the capital. On December 7 a clash between security services and a convoy in which Rizieq was travelling left six of his followers dead. In this webinar, Dr Quinton Temby analyses these recent developments, drawing on social media data to illustrate how Rizieq’s return has played into online polarization between government and opposition activists. With physical mobilization restricted due to the pandemic, and the details of the recent clash disputed, Twitter has been an arena for hashtag battles between different actors seeking to control the narrative. Dr Temby concludes by reflecting on the prospects for Islamic populism in Indonesia and why social media is likely to be critical to any populist success.

About the Speaker

Dr Quinton Temby is a Visiting Fellow with the Regional Social and Cultural Studies Programme at the ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute. He completed his PhD in the Department of Political and Social Change at the Australian National University. His research interests include violent extremism in Southeast Asia and social media and polarization. His articles have appeared in various media, including The Interpreter, The Straits Times, and South China Morning Post. He is the author of a forthcoming book on the rise of global jihadism in Southeast Asia (Oxford University Press).


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Dec 21 2020


10:00 am - 11:15 am