Dilemma of Indonesian Presidency at the G20 Summit as the West Rejects Russia’s Presence

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Indonesia has emerged as a primary battleground between democratic and autocratic visions of Islam in the 21st century.

The battle pits Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), the world’s largest civil society movement with 90 million followers and powerful ministers in Indonesian President Joko Widodo’s cabinet, against Abdullah bin Bayyah, an Abu Dhabi-based, Mauritanian-born religious jurist. Mr. Bin Bayyah, a Sunni Muslim high priest for Middle Eastern autocracy, provides religious legitimisation to the autocratic rulers of the United Arab Emirates.

Mr. Widodo risks finding himself in the battle’s crossfire. Although closely associated with Nahdlatul Ulama, Mr. Widodo has agreed to cooperate with the UAE on religious affairs in return for massive Emirati investment in the Southeast Asian archipelago nation.

At the heart of the battle between rival theologically packaged visions of governance is the relationship between Islamic clerics…

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