Islam, Politics, and Cyber Tribalism in Indonesia: A Case Study on the Front Pembela Islam
At the end of 2016, Islamist organisations proved able to mobilise hundreds of thousands of people for political purposes in Indonesia. In order to explain their success, the role of social media should not be underestimated, as Islamic movements rely heavily on agitation in online media. This article sheds light on the example of the Front Pembela Islam, using one of the organisation’s Facebook pages as a case study. Within the algorithmic enclave of a cyber tribe, narratives and symbols are applied in memes. The research examines how narratives and symbols evoke emotions in online memes and offline banners, what narratives are addressed, and how the memes make claims regarding commonly acknowledged signifiers such as the NKRI, Islam and Pluralism. The guiding thesis is that these memes express not simply anti-pluralist or anti-NKRI notions, as opponents of these groups frequently assert, but rather combinations of
robust nationalism and their alternative version of pluralism with conservative Islamic approaches. Nonetheless, threats and enemies are inevitably present as a constitutive outside and suggest a highly exclusive version of Indonesianness. Thus similar narratives and symbols applied in online media also emerge within public spaces, blurring the distinction between the online and offline realms.
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