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Front stage with the PKS

At its upmarket congress, Indonesia’s biggest Islamic party tried but failed to convince it has become an open and inclusive party

Greg Fealy

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   PKS delegates present a united front
   Image courtesy of PKS

Indonesia’s largest Islamic party, the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS), held its five-yearly national conference, or Munas, on 17-20 June 2010. It was, by any measure, a gala occasion. Held in one of Jakarta’s most expensive and exclusive hotels, the Ritz-Carlton at Pacific Place, it was attended by some 4000 delegates and party members. The munas was opened with great fanfare by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono with leaders from most major political parties also in attendance. There were numerous cultural events and large public seminars addressed by foreign ambassadors and a range of Muslim and non-Muslim academics from Indonesia and abroad. The party’s new slogan of ‘PKS for All’ was launched and officials extolled PKS’s ‘open’, ‘inclusive’ and ‘transparent’ nature at every opportunity.

The climax of the conference was the closing ceremony, which was given the full Hollywood treatment. A pair of male and female MCs in formal attire hosted the event, presenting an effusive commentary about the ‘great’ program of entertainment and extolling PKS’s achievements. There was an elaborate light show, swirling smoke on stage, a string of musical performances, a light-hearted theatrical rendition of PKS’s origins as a campus outreach movement and the presentation of awards to branches and cadres (with recipients

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