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Home arrow Religion arrow Islam and the making of the nation: Kartosuwiryo and Political Islam in 20th Century Indonesia

The ‘War of the Roses’ The Islamic state and the Pancasila Republic (1949-1962)

[The government] should not consider [the Darul Islam] an enemy, rather like a father his son. Regardless of how naughty the son, if taught a lesson he should not be beaten to death, rather given a lecture, or dealt just one blow, drenched in affection. It is similar with a domestic rebellious movement.[1]

Disillusioned by the Republic’s acquiescence to Dutch demands, under pressure by the TNI’s operations in West Java and let down by Masyumi’s inability to make political Islam relevant in parliamentary politics, on 7 August 1949 Kartosuwiryo and the dewan imamah had officially proclaimed the establishment of the Negara Islam Indonesia.

As shown in the previous chapter, Masyumi’s political leadership and some elements of the TNI reached out to Kartosuwiryo’s NII in the following months to find a political solution to what had become known as the ‘Darul Islam problem’ (soalDarul Islam). This chapter follows the relationship between the Islamic state and the Indonesian Republic in the aftermath of the surrender of Dutch sovereignty, focusing in particular on how the transformation from the federal RIS to a unitary state affected NII’s attitude and activities.

Diplomacy had dictated the rhythm of Indonesian politics for years, with treaties followed by ceasefires followed by their infringement. Some provinces in the archipelago were slowly warming up to the idea of a federal Republic under the patronage of the House of Orange, but the population of West Java - regardless of its allegiance to the Islamic state - remained unimpressed by the Roem- Van Royen agreement, which, far from confirming the country’s independence, had established the Negara Pasoendan as an instrument of The Hague.

The Dutch were buying the allegiance of civil servants and politicians, and Republican leaders were settling the details for the transfer of sovereignty. Yet, despite its opposition to the Dutch- sponsored state, its frustration at the Republican leadership’s diplomatic approach and its anger at the Siliwangi Division’s re-entry in 1948, the Darul Islam was not yet univocally antagonizing the Republican government and army.

If one were to believe the image of Darul Islam that has been dominant since the 1960s (a topic I explore in the next chapter), it would be easy to think that as early as 1948-49 the Siliwangi Division and Republican leaders, concerned with restoring law and order, openly condemned the Darul Islam as a destabilizing force, an agent of the Netherlands and a terrorist movement exploiting and oppressing the people of West Java. On the contrary, archival sources clearly show that the scattered occurrences of cooperation that had dotted 1948 continued through 1949, and that, until the mid 1950s, military commanders and political leaders (mostly, but not exclusively, from Masyumi) suggested that the Republic should put its efforts into finding a political solution to the Darul Islam problem.

  • [1] Kasman Singodimedjo, chairman of Masyumi, ‘DI anaknja, Masjumi ajahnja’, Harian Rajat,20 September 1955.
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